JESUS, THE GREAT UNITER AND DIVIDER

PART 1

 

Imagine that a fisherman, a radical religionist, and IRS agent were put into a room together. What do you think would happen? What could the possible have in common? Would they simply ignore each other or would they find someway to bond with each other? The likelihood of three men like this with totally different backgrounds becoming friends would be rare, but Jesus has uniting people like this every since He began His ministry on the earth.

 

It is amazing to me how Jesus has power to bring all kinds of people together with different backgrounds that would never meet under normal circumstances. Not only do they meet, they end up becoming friends and call each other brother or sister.

 

When Jesus began His ministry on earth, He started finding men that would eventually become apostles. Some of the first men He called to service were fishermen.

 

Matthew 4:18 And Jesus, walking by the Sea of Galilee, saw two brothers, Simon called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen.19 Then He said to them, "Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men."20 They immediately left their nets and followed Him.21 Going on from there, He saw two other brothers, James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother, in the boat with Zebedee their father, mending their nets. He called them,22 and immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed Him.

 

These four men were partners in their fishing job according to Luke 5. These men had lots in common with each other because of their trade and their background. So, it should not surprise us that they were already united with each other. Many people find common ground today with those that they work with or go to school with. Again this is no surprise, but Jesus was not finished yet.

 

One man that Jesus called to service was a man Simon. We do not know a lot about him because the Bible just says that he was a Canaanite (Mk. 3:18), which means zealous and he was called a zealot in Luke 6:15.

††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††

A zealot is defined as:

 

1. one burning with zeal

2. to defend and uphold a thing, vehemently contending for a thing

 

It is believed that Simon was a member of the Jewish political party known as the Zealots. This was a fanatical group who opposed Roman rule over Palestine during the first century. These radical Jews were the ones that led to the Jerusalem being destroyed in 70 a.d. because they lead a revolt against the Romans.

 

These zealots were dedicated to serving God and upholding his law by any means necessary. They would fight to the death to uphold their beliefs. They thought it was a sin to pay tribute to the Romans. Some of them were assassins known as daggermen.

Though Simeon had this background, Jesus brought him into the mix and was able to unite him with the other apostles. More amazing that that was how Jesus was able to take this radical zealot and have him be at peace with another man that Jesus called to his service.

 

Matthew 9:9 As Jesus passed on from there, He saw a man named Matthew sitting at the tax office. And He said to him, "Follow Me." So he arose and followed Him.

 

A tax collector was seen as a sinner and was despised by the Jews. A tax collector was someone who collected taxes for Rome. Many times the tax collectors would take more than they were supposed to. It would have difficult enough to get other Jews to accept Matthew, but Jesus calls him to be one of the 12. Only Jesus could unit a despised tax collector with other Jews.

 

More impressive than this was the fact that He could unit Simon the former zealot with a tax collector. I could only imagine how hard it would have been for Simon to fight his urge from pulling out a dagger and running Matthew thru, but we never read of such because of capable Jesus is a bringing people who might normally hate each or kill each other together.

 

Jesus did not stop with one tax collector. No, He raised the bar even higher as we continue to read verse:

 

Matthew 9:10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples.11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, "Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?"12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.13 "But go and learn what this means: 'I desire mercy and not sacrifice.' For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."

 

Here we have Jesus eating with tax collectors and other sinners. He is uniting them together as men and women who need salvation. All you have to do is look around this room. There are many different people in our congregation. Many of us would have never met or become friends if were not for Jesus. He is our common bond and makes is possible for us to be united together through Him.

 

Perhaps one of the greatest examples of Jesus uniting men together that would never happen otherwise is found in:

 

Acts 9:1 Then Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest2 and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem.

 

Saul was very zealous man kind of like Simon the Zealot, but there was major difference. Simonís zeal was against the Romans, but Saulís was against everything that had to do with Christ. The idea of Saul breathing threats and murder against the disciples is saying that is what he lived. He lived and breathed to destroy Christianity. He desire was so great that other Pharisees dreamed about being like him. He was a man that walked the walk and talked the talk.

 

Imagine yourself being a Christian living in the same town as Saul. Though you may not have feared dying for the cause of Christ, you would have been very careful not to fall in the hands of the radical man name Saul. However, notice what happens as we continue to read in:

 

Acts 9:3 As he journeyed he came near Damascus, and suddenly a light shone around him from heaven.4 Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?"5 And he said, "Who are You, Lord?" Then the Lord said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads."6 So he, trembling and astonished, said, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" Then the Lord said to him, "Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do."7 And the men who journeyed with him stood speechless, hearing a voice but seeing no one.8 Then Saul arose from the ground, and when his eyes were opened he saw no one. But they led him by the hand and brought him into Damascus.9 And he was three days without sight, and neither ate nor drank.

 

Jesus goes to work on this radical man and humbles him. While Saul waits to find out what he must do, we read:

 

Acts 9:10 Now there was a certain disciple at Damascus named Ananias; and to him the Lord said in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord."11 So the Lord said to him, "Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying.12 "And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight."13 Then Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem.14 "And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name."

 

This shows us how much Saul had done to Christianity. His name had spread quickly among the Christians of who he was and what he does. So, Ananias wants to make sure Jesus is sending him to the right person. Next we read:

 

Acts 9:15 But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.16 "For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name's sake."17 And Ananias went his way and entered the house; and laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came, has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit."18 Immediately there fell from his eyes something like scales, and he received his sight at once; and he arose and was baptized.19 ∂ So when he had received food, he was strengthened. Then Saul spent some days with the disciples at Damascus.20 Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God.21 Then all who heard were amazed, and said, "Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?"22 But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.

 

This was one those moments that you would have to be there in order to believe it. Jesus was able to take this radical Pharisee who was out to destroy Christianity and use Him for His ministry. Now, Saul was out preaching the Jesus was the Son of God and had become united with the very people he set out to destroy. You know it had to be hard for these Christians at Damascus to accept him as sincere brother in Christ, but they did all because of Jesus.

 

This is amazing testament to how Jesus has the power to bring people together no matter what their background because once we change our lives to the way of God, we become brothers and sisters in Christ.

 

While Jesus is great a bringing people together in righteousness, He was also good at bringing sinners together as well. While Jesus was working His miracles and proclaiming the message of the kingdom coming, he got the attention of the opposing Pharisees and Scribes. These men were afraid that the message Jesus was teaching would cause them to lose what freedoms they had under Roman rule.

 

John 11:47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, "What shall we do? For this Man works many signs. 48 "If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation."

 

Because of their fear of the Romans and the positions they had, they came together as united force to find a way to put Jesus to death.

 

John 11:53 Then, from that day on, they plotted to put Him to death.

 

Jesus even brought Herod and Pilate together who were not friends according to:

 

Luke 23:12 That very day Pilate and Herod became friends with each other, for previously they had been at enmity with each other.

 

Sinners have a tendency to be united together in the same cause when it comes to protesting against the right way. In this sense, Jesus even unites sinners together.

 

While Jesus was on the earth, His teachings were directed to the Jews. Gentiles were excluded at the time, but not completely ignored.

 

Matthew 15:21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon.22 And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, "Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed."23 But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, "Send her away, for she cries out after us."24 But He answered and said, "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."25 Then she came and worshiped Him, saying, "Lord, help me!"26 But He answered and said, "It is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the little dogs."27 And she said, "Yes, Lord, yet even the little dogs eat the crumbs which fall from their masters' table."28 Then Jesus answered and said to her, "O woman, great is your faith! Let it be to you as you desire." And her daughter was healed from that very hour.

 

While Gentiles were not His focus while He was on earth, they were part of the plan after His death. Please keep in mind that under the Law of Moses, the Jews were Godís chosen people, and they would avoid Gentiles like they were diseased. They would not even go into a structure owned by a Gentile. Yet, Jesus once again set a new standard for everyone under the new covenant.

 

It wasnít until several years after Jesusí death that this plan to make Gentiles part of Godís people was confirmed. We find this happening in the Book of Acts. In Acts 10, a Gentile named Cornelius was praying to God and his prayers were answered. He was going to get to hear about Jesus and what he needed to do to be saved. Peter was going to be the messenger, but Peter did not know it yet. God sent him a vision to prepare him for what he was about to do.

 

Acts 10:9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour.10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth.12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air.13 And a voice came to him, "Rise, Peter; kill and eat."14 But Peter said, "Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean."15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, "What God has cleansed you must not call common."16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.

 

This was a vision to help him see that God did not consider the Gentiles to be unclean and that he needed to go with the men that came to his house to go see Cornelius. Peter obeyed the voice and went with the men. However, I can imagine how awkward this was for him. When he arrives at Corneliusí house we read:

 

Acts 10:28 Then he said to them, "You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation. But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.29 "Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?"30 ∂ So Cornelius said, "Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,31 "and said, 'Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God.32 'Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.'33 "So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God."34 ∂ Then Peter opened his mouth and said: "In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality.35 "But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.

 

Once again, we see Jesus at work with His ability to bring together both Jew and Gentile. Peter says it was unlawful, but things have changed because of Jesus. To further confirm that Gentiles were part of Godís plan, He poured out the Holy Spirit on Corneliusí household and immediately Peter says:

 

Acts 10:47 "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?"48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

 

Jesus broke down all the walls that separated Jew from Gentile.

 

Ephesians 2:11 Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh -- who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands --12 that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation,15 having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace,16 and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.17 And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.

 

All people can be Godís people. There no longer is a division because once you are baptized into Christ, you become a child of God. As Paul said:

 

Galatians 3:26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.29 And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise.

 

Not only has Jesus made it possible for us to become united with all kinds of different people that we not normally know, He also united us with God even though we were sinners and do not deserve unity with Him.

 

Romans 5:6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

 

Thanks to Jesus, we now have access to Father and have the hope eternal life in heaven. Jesus has prayed the prayer that all disciples of Christ and future disciples of Christ will have unity with God in John 17. This is why Jesus is the great uniter. Only He could bring us all together from our various backgrounds and make us be united with God. What a wonderful Savior we have. The question becomes will allow yourself to become united with God and His followers or will continue to unite yourself with the worldly people and continue in your rebellion? My hope is that you will allow Jesus to unite you with God by obeying His plan of salvation and by continuing to live for Him. If you believe that Jesus is the Son of God and are willing to repent, and confess Jesus as Lord. Then why not come forward and be baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of yours sins so you can become united with God and have the hope of heaven.

 

If you are already united with God, I hope that you will continue to living for God and enjoy the wonderful benefits the Jesus has given. Let us never forget that though the people in the room come from different backgrounds with different ideas, we all have the common bond of Christ and we are brothers and sisters in Christ. Letís us never stop loving each other or helping each other remain faithful to the Lord.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JESUS, THE GREAT UNITER AND DIVIDER

PART 2

 

This morning we talked about how Jesus was a great uniter. He had the ability to bring people together that would normal be mortal enemies and cause them to work together for a common goal. Even better than that, Jesus has united us with our Father in heaven, which only Jesus could do.

 

Just as a Jesus was a great uniter, He was also a great divider. Jesus said in:

 

Luke 12:51 "Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.52 "For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three.53 "Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law."

 

Anytime you bring truth into the world it will also cause division with those who do want the truth. Boles explains our verses this way:

 

Christ is the Prince of Peace; but in a sinful world, a righteous king can have and give peace only by destroying error and evil; to do this will bring wary; not because Christ and his people have the spirit of strife and war, but because the truth they urge is resisted, and madethe occasion for strife, division, and contention by others. The conflict that may be waged among the different advocates of error will often unite them in their opposition to the truth. The truth taught by Jesus is opposed to error; there can be no compromise between truth and error. When one member of the household accepts the truth and other reject it, there is opposition and antagonism (Boles 264).

 

I am sure all of us in this room have known families that have been divided because of Jesus. Satan knows that we have mentality that blood is thicker than water and he uses that to his advantage. He knows if anyone can talk a person out of following Christ it is a family member. Those that have grown up around you can make more miserable and guilty than anyone else.

 

When you take the Lordís side and refuse to give into your family member whether it be a husband, wife or your children, there will be division. There is a reason why Jesus said:

 

Matthew 7:14 "Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.

 

It is not easy to go against the ones you love and around every day. It can be challenging to put God before them when you cannot see God or talk to Him directly like you can your loved ones. When you have a loved one that keeps hounding you every day to give up on Christianity it can become very hard not to. However, notice what Jesus said in Matthews account:

Matthew 10:34 " Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword.35 "For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law';36 "and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.'37 "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.38 "And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.39 "He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.

 

Division is almost always viewed in negative light. No one wakes up and says, ďtoday I am going to divide my familyĒ? While division hurts, it is not always wrong and it necessary at times. Jesus is telling us that He must come first in our lives. We cannot compromise Godís Word for the sake of the family. His way must always come first and we must realize this the day we make the commitment to become a Christian.

 

We have not been promised an easy path. You have to be fully committed to God in order to allow His truth to take first place in your life. Notice Jesus said that you are not worthy of Christ if you put your family first. I want you to think about your family right now and how much you love them and what you do for them. Now, ask yourself, do you love your family more than you love God? Would you put your familyís needs above what God ask you to do in Word? If so, Jesus says you are not worthy of Him. This is hard saying, but when it is followed, you can see how it can bring division in a family.

 

Not only does Jesus divide families, He divides you from those who are not following after Him, which includes your friends, neighbors and associates. However, this should not surprise you because Jesus said:

 

John 15:18 " If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.19 "If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.20 "Remember the word that I said to you, 'A servant is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

 

The world in general does not like the idea of having their lives regulated by Godís Word. They want to do what they want to do. If you speak against pornography, they will stand opposed to you. If you speak against abortion, they will fight against you. If you proclaim that marriage is between a man and women, you will be hated and labeled as being evil. Whatever sin you speak against as found in the Bible that the world says is ok, division will occur because people of the world do not care for Godís Word.

 

If you were not raised up in the church and you lived like the world, the world loved you because you were like them. However, if you realized that you were a sinner and you obeyed the gospel, those around you will have a hard time understanding why as Peter said:

 

1 Peter 4:3For we have spent enough of our past lifetime in doing the will of the Gentiles -- when we walked in lewdness, lusts, drunkenness, revelries, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries.4 In regard to these, they think it strange that you do not run with them in the same flood of dissipation, speaking evil of you.

 

When we will no longer do these things we used to do that the world says is acceptable those people will slowly but surely separate themselves from you, because following after Jesus and living for Him will do this.

 

Think about Saul. We talked about him this morning. He had a great following of Pharisees that want to be just like him when we was doing his best to destroy Christianity, but once he converted to the truth and he began to use his zeal to spread Christianity, he lost his followers and they turned on him.

 

Acts 9:23 Now after many days were past, the Jews plotted to kill him.24 But their plot became known to Saul. And they watched the gates day and night, to kill him.25 Then the disciples took him by night and let him down through the wall in a large basket.

 

These Jews were on Saulís side until he changed sides, then they were ready to kill him and Jesus is what made this division happen. Everywhere Paul went and preached the word it caused division and those opposing Jews continued to try and put Paul to death.

For example notice:

 

Acts 14:1 Now it happened in Iconium that they went together to the synagogue of the Jews, and so spoke that a great multitude both of the Jews and of the Greeks believed.2 But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brethren.3 Therefore they stayed there a long time, speaking boldly in the Lord, who was bearing witness to the word of His grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands.4 But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles.5 And when a violent attempt was made by both the Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to abuse and stone them,6 they became aware of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding region.

 

Everywhere Paul went, his life was in danger because of these opposing Jews. As you can see, when the people would here the truth proclaimed some would accept and some would not, which always caused division. Anytime the truth is proclaimed in a crowd of people who are not Christians, there will always be division. Though Paul went through much suffering to proclaim the gospel, he never regretted it.

 

Philippians 3:2 Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the mutilation!3 For we are the circumcision, who worship God in the Spirit, rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh,4 though I also might have confidence in the flesh. If anyone else thinks he may have confidence in the flesh, I more so:5 circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of the Hebrews; concerning the law, a Pharisee;6 concerning zeal, persecuting the church; concerning the righteousness which is in the law, blameless.7 But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ.8 Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ9 and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith;10 that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death,11 if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.12 ∂ Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

 

Though the message of Jesus and following after Him may cause us to have suffer along the way we can know that it is worth it because only Jesus can grant us eternity in heaven. Though Jesus can cause much division between us and those around us, we must continue to hold fast to His truth and have confidence in what He has promised us for remain faithful to Him.

 

Not everyone can stand up to the challenge of living for Christ and proclaim Him as our Savior even though they believe that He is the Son of God. For example notice we find in:

 

John 12:42 Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue;43 for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

 

I think this is very sad. This makes about as much sense as a person knowing that a certain pill will completely cure his disease, but because of his fear of being kicked out of a club, he chooses to suffer and die with his disease. Many have followed down this path. They believe the Jesus is the Son of God, but they do not want to offend those around them. They are afraid of the division that confessing Jesus as the Lord will bring, so they hide it and never become a Christian.

 

There are also those who have become a Christian. They confess Jesus as their Lord and even labored in His kingdom for a time. At some point in their life, they let the world get to them and being divided from the world was just too much for them. So, they found some excuse that satisfied them to justify leaving the church, which is the same as leaving God. It does not matter what the reason was. No matter how good it may sound, it was just an excuse.

 

The writer of Hebrews talks about people like this:

 

Hebrews 6:4 For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit,5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come,6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

 

Peter says:

 

2 Peter 2:20 For if, after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the latter end is worse for them than the beginning.21 For it would have been better for them not to have known the way of righteousness, than having known it, to turn from the holy commandment delivered to them.22 But it has happened to them according to the true proverb: "A dog returns to his own vomit," and, "a sow, having washed, to her wallowing in the mire."

 

We all know Christians who have followed this path and have rejoined the world. These are the people that divided themselves from the world, but grafted themselves back in. How sad indeed.

 

Whenever we follow after Jesus it will also cause division in our priorities from what they used to be. A great example of this is found in:

 

Luke 10:38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word.40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me."41 And Jesus answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.42 "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."

 

There are many different ways to use this example, but I want you to see Martha as how used to be before you became a Christian because Martha has the wrong priorities in life. She is concerned about the issues of life and making sure they are taken care of why she ignored what was important in life, which was Jesus. If we are honest with ourselves, sometimes that side of us comes out even though we have become Christians.

 

Mary represents what we are supposed to be like once we become a Christian. We are to sit at the feet of the master and live and breathe the words of life. When we make that transformation, we can see how Jesus divides our priorities from the ways used to be. Our focus should not be on Godís way and not our way or the worldís way. As Paul said:

 

Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

 

We have to be careful and keep an eye out to make sure the Martha in us does not come back out and that we allow the Mary in us to remain so that we can keep our priorities straight.

 

The greatest division that Jesus brings about in our lives is the division between righteousness and sin or we light and dark. Thanks to Jesus, He has made it possible for us to be divided from our sin. Without Jesus, sin would have power over us, but thanks be to God that Jesus was allowed to die for us and redeem us from our sin.

 

Titus 2:11 For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men,12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age,13 looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ,14 who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

 

1 Peter 1:17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one's work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear;18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers,19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

 

You and I have been blessed beyond measure through Jesus and what He able to do for us. While most division causes frustration and heartache, to be able to be opposed to sin and for it to no longer have power over us is one most positive things I can say about division.

 

I have pointed out many different ways that Jesus is the great divider. While some of the division following after Him will bring suffering and heartache, it is worth it because only His way is always the right. Though we struggle with understanding why God wants us to do certain things certain ways we must never fail to follow the advice given to us in:

 

Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.8 It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.

 

We should be thankful every day for Jesus being both a great uniter and a great divider. Let us never stop following after His ways or trusting in Him. ††