A house divided cannot stand. I have heard this saying many times. But I am not sure I ever realized that it came from the Bible. Today as I read the Gospel reading, and then re-read it and re-read it again, I struggled to understand what Jesus was saying.
The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,”* and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.”
Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him. But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house.
We are a nation divided. Deeply divided. How can we stand?
Currently we do not stand. We do not stand together. We do not stand at all. We cower behind social media. We attack children who wear red hats and call them racists; we attack infants in their mothers’ wombs and call those who oppose it sexist. We build walls that only divide us. We oppose the death penalty for even our most heinous criminals but celebrate murder of our most innocent victims. A house divided will not stand… but are we standing now?
My first thought when I heard this passage, was a call to unity. We must come together as a country, or we will fall.
But as I read the full passage, Jesus compares the kingdom and house to Satan. At the end of the day, I am not sure it is necessarily about coming together as a country, although that would be a nice by-product. It is about coming together as God’s people. Kingdoms fall. Houses fall. These are human creations. And when Satan gets a hold of them, Satan causes division. Satan does not fight himself. Satan will not drive himself out. He will not go against himself. Only God can defeat Satan. Only God can drive him out.
But God gave us free will. We can choose Satan. We can choose division. We can stay quiet and not stand. We can choose not to oppose what we know to be wrong. We can choose to take our fight to social media, instead of taking our plight to God. We can be weak and allow Satan to plunder our house, plunder our country, because we are not strong enough, on our own, to stop him. Or we can choose God. God has the power to bind Satan. God has the power to unite. God and only God has the power to save, to destroy Satan, to destroy the division that Satan creates. To heal our country. But we have to choose. God will not stop us from choosing Satan. We have to choose.
I choose you God! I am not strong enough to defeat Satan. I am not strong enough to fix the division that permeates our country. I need your help. I want your help. We are weak. As a country, we are lost. Guide us. Lead us. Show us your way. Help our leaders find your way. Help each of us, leader or not, seek you. Help us come together united as your children. You are the Way, the Truth and the Life. You are my Way, my Truth and my Life. I reject Satan. I choose you!