On June 16, 1858, an up and coming politician accepted the Republican Party’s nomination for one of Illinois’ US Senate seats. Though this particular politician would be defeated by his rival, Stephen Douglas, he would go on to greater things. In his acceptance speech for the nomination, Abraham Lincoln said,
A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved — I do not expect the house to fall — but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become all one thing or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction; or its advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the States, old as well as new — North as well as South.
Lincoln was right. Though it required a bloody civil war to settle the differences, the union would endure and the division would cease. Or would it?
As a Christian citizen of this country, I would be lying if I did not express some concern about the issues faced by this country. Though we have settled the issue of slavery, it seems that we are facing divisions today that go far beyond political ideologies, though they are very much political. The divisions we face today rest at the heart of our culture. And in so many ways, our divisions are a ticking bomb waiting to explode. How divided must the house become before a tipping point is reached?
Even this week, we have seen this division deepen as yet another state – this time New York – has legalized Soddomite marriages. That means that 20% of the states allow this mockery of marriage. If you look at a map of the states that ban this practice and the states that condone this practice, it is starting to look a lot like the map of slave states and free states in 1861 – only this time the Southern states are clearly in the right.
Perhaps the nation will endure the division over Soddomite marriages. What about the division over fiscal politics? This is yet another point of great contention in our nation. How far can the division go before something dramatic happens? Ultimately, Lincoln was right on all counts regarding the efficacy of a divided nation – it simply cannot stand. But, as it turns out, Lincoln had a good teacher. Jesus said this long before Lincoln.
In Mark 3, Jesus reminded his critics of this foundational truth as they accused him of driving out demons with Satan’s power. Obviously this was a foolish argument as Satan wouldn’t last very long if he behaved this way. But the principle of division is true in every aspect of our lives. It is true on a national level in our politics, but it is also true on a local level in our homes and our churches. A house divided cannot stand.
As the church of this great nation, we must face the division of our politics with a unity in our purpose. Though we may vehemently disagree with the direction our nation is taking, we must still be salt and light in a very dark and divided land. We know that the only solution to our ills is Christ. And we must be firmly committed to bringing him to our neighbors and our nation. Not so we can save the union, but so Christ can save all of us from our sinful selves.