Division among the Ranks
Read Luke 11:14-28
When he was eight years old, every Wednesday evening at 6:45, our youngest son would become part of a team. He put on his black satiny shorts, his neon orange socks and shirt, and black plastic-tipped cleats. We drove him to the field, and upon emerging from the van, Eric became a vital part of a soccer team. They didn’t really have a name, just a picture of a tree on their shirts (from their sponsor, the local nursery). Consequently, I, along with all the other mothers on the sidelines, found ourselves continually shouting, "Go Orange!" They knew who they were. Although sometimes I had to wonder.
Invariably, during the game, the soccer ball would be surrounded by a handful of orange shirts, each trying to get his cleat on the prize. And just as predictably, it was a shirt of a different color that ended up stealing the ball and scoring the goal. The coach told them several times (along with various vocal fathers) that they’re a team and to work together. That if they play against each other, the opposing team will win. And it did. Often. Sounds a lot like the reminder Jesus gave in this reading.
Jesus had just cast out a demon from a man who was then miraculously transformed. It was in answering the absurd accusation that He was in unison with the darkness, that Jesus made some pretty straight-forward remarks about division.
"Any kingdom at war with itself is doomed. A divided home is also doomed." Luke 11:17
Division among the ranks – it will always end in disaster. We can see how this relates to vast kingdoms and even domestic households. But how does it relate to us as individuals? To me personally? Ask yourself this… do I ever struggle with divided loyalties? With good vs. evil? The apostle Paul did. And in his letter to the Romans, he was very candid about the war within him.
"When I want to do good, I don't. And when I try not to do wrong, I do it anyway ... Who will free me from this life that is dominated by sin? Thank God! The answer is Jesus Christ our Lord." Romans 7:19, 24, 25
We all struggle in this war called life. We want to do what's right, but it takes so much effort. Like trying to go up a down escalator. Unless you keep moving upward, you'll automatically go down. Mother Theresa once said, “Our progress in holiness depends on God and ourselves – on God's grace and our will to be holy.” Righteous living isn't about being easy. It’s about Who’s in control. And Paul had a thing or two to say about that as well.
"But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you." Romans 8:9
To give up control. Jim Elliot, a missionary who was martyred for his faith, wrote this in his journal: "A person is no fool to give up what he cannot keep in order to gain what he cannot lose."
God wants to grow His goodness in you. Why would you want to fight Him? If your heart is right with God, then you and He are on the same team. And we already know how the game ends.