Every city or household divided against itself will not stand. Matthew 12:25
On June 16, 1858, as the newly nominated Republican candidate for the US Senate from Illinois, Abraham Lincoln delivered his famous “House Divided” speech, which highlighted the tensions between various factions in America regarding slavery. It caused a stir among Lincoln’s friends and foes. Lincoln felt it was important to use the “house divided” figure of speech which Jesus used in Matthew 12:25 because it was widely known and simply expressed. He used this metaphor “so it would strike home to the minds of men in order to rouse them to the peril of the times.”
While a divided house can’t stand, the implied opposite can—an undivided house stands unified. In principle, that’s what the household of God is designed to be (Ephesians 2:19). Though made up of people from various backgrounds, together we’ve been reconciled to God (and each other) through Jesus’ death on the cross (vv. 14–16). In view of this truth (see Ephesians 3), Paul offers this instruction to believers in Jesus: “Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (4:3).
Today, when heightened tensions threaten to divide people who are otherwise united, such as our families and fellow believers, God can give the wisdom and strength needed to keep unity with one another through the help of the Spirit. This will cause us to be light in a dark, divided world.
How could God use you to be a “family peacemaker”? What Scripture passages could help you counter relational tension and fracture?
Jesus, please grant me wisdom, courage, and strength to live in ways that demonstrate reconciliation with all people.
Faith in Christ is a communal experience rather than an individual one. When the New Testament describes the lives of believers in Jesus, the terms used are almost always plural—and that’s the case in Ephesians 2:17–22. Key expressions are “fellow citizens” (v. 19) and “built together” (v. 22). In each case, the body of Christ, not the individual, is in view. Additionally, not only are these expressions plural, but they also point strongly toward the church as community—found in the words fellow and together. These terms do more than express plurality, however. They also speak of entering into a shared experience with one another as believers in Jesus. This idea is reinforced more than twenty-five times in the New Testament as we’re challenged by “one another” statements—for example, Romans 12:10, 16; 15:7; Ephesians 4:2, 32; 5:21—that guide how we’re to relate to each other as fellow members of the body of Christ.