A Divider, Not a Uniter Rev. Tony Cooke

A Divider, Not a Uniter
Rev. Tony Cooke

jesus a divider, not a uniterAt the beginning of his first term in office, President George W. Bush made an appealing pledge to be “a uniter, not a divider.” Regardless of one’s political affiliations or preferences, most people would agree that uniting all people, with their diverse opinions, beliefs, and philosophies, is nigh impossible. As a matter of fact, Jesus Himself didn’t even try to “unite” everyone.

Jesus, in one of his more difficult and startling statements, said: “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword” (Matt 10:34). Luke renders that statement, “Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division” (Luke 12:51). The word division here means “disunion.” Jesus came to break our union with darkness and unite us unto Himself.

Why is Jesus’ statement (that he came to bring division) so shocking to us? I think that we’ve been conditioned—even subconsciously perhaps—to believe that Jesus is more like “the Candy Man” than the real Redeemer portrayed in Scripture. Do you remember the song popularized by Sammy Davis Jr. about the Candy Man?

Who can take a sunrise, sprinkle it with dew
Cover it with choc’late and a miracle or two
The Candy Man, oh the Candy Man can
The Candy Man can ’cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good

Equally frivolous is another song that also came out in the early 70’s…

I’d like to buy the world a home and furnish it with love,
Grow apple trees and honey bees, and snow white turtle doves.
I’d like to teach the world to sing in perfect harmony,
I’d like to uy the world a Coke and keep it company.

Isn’t that quite a message? If we just buy everybody in the world a Coke and a Milky Way bar, we’ll all live happily ever after! (If you believe that, someone’s got some great ocean-front property in South Dakota that they’d love to sell you.)

Scripture make no pretense of Jesus being a glorified “Candy Man.” He was, in fact, very controversial and divisive. Consider the following about Jesus:

  • John 7:43 – So there was a division among the people because of Him.
  • John 9:16 – And there was a division among them.
  • John 10:19 – Therefore there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings.
  • Acts 14:4 – But the multitude of the city was divided: part sided with the Jews, and part with the apostles.

Isaiah prophesied that Jesus would be “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” (8:14). Holding the infant Jesus, Simeon foretold that “this Child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign which will be spoken against” (Luke 2:34).

Remember also that the One who will separate the wheat from the tares (Matthew 13:24-30) will also separate the sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31-33). “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.”

John the Baptist said of Jesus, “His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:12). Wow! That’s quite a separation!

When you read the Old Testament, you get the very clear impression that God was adamant that His people not only know the difference between holy and unholy things, but that they be separated unto Him. Consider these stern words that came through Ezekiel (22:26, The Message). “Your priests violated my law and desecrated my holy things. They can’t tell the difference between sacred and secular. They tell people there’s no difference between right and wrong. They’re contemptuous of my holy Sabbaths, profaning me by trying to pull me down to their level.”

In the New Testament, this call for “distinction” or separation is also clear. In 2 Corinthians 6:14-16, Paul admonished believers saying, “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.”

Paul went on to say (verses 17-18), “Therefore, Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you. I will be a Father to you, and you shall be My sons and daughters, says the LORD Almighty.”

Paul also said (1 Corinthians 11:31) that “if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged.” The word Paul used when he referred to judging ourselves means “to separate thoroughly, to make a distinction, or to distinguish between.”

Jesus is still a Divider. When John saw the glorified Jesus in a vision (Revelation 1:16), “out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword.” He is still bringing division, separating the holy from the unholy. As the world promotes the idea that every belief and behavior is equally valid, we must recognize that not all division is bad division.

Granted, none of us like petty quibbling over non-essential issues, but Jesus still separates truth from error, light from darkness, sin from righteousness, and right from wrong. He is a Holy Savior, not a Candy Man! He doesn’t promote a false unification that is devoid of moral standards or lacking in a foundation of truth. In closing, consider these statements:

“Unity without the gospel is a worthless unity; it is the very unity of hell.”
– J.C. Ryle

“Separation from evil is the necessary first principle of communion with Him… Separation from evil is His principle of unity.”
– J.N. Darby

“To part with truth to show charity is to betray our Lord with a kiss. Between those who believe in the eternal verities and those who constantly cast doubt on them there can be no union.”
– Charles H. Spurgeon

“Diversity and division are infinitely more precious than a satanic unity.”
– John Whitcomb Jr.

These strong statements and the principles we’ve discussed don’t preclude us operating in gentleness, wisdom, and humility. We should certainly avoid a haughty attitude that projects “I’m right and everyone else is wrong.” Yet we must maintain the awareness that God’s Word forever stands as the standard of truth. It is the line that has been drawn in the sand, and we want to be on the right side of the Great Divider’s “line” in our thinking, our attitude, our words, and our conduct.

Our prayer for you for 2010 is found in 1 Thessalonians 5:23 (Amp): “May the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through [separate you from profane things, make you pure and wholly consecrated to God]; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved sound and complete [and found] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah).”