Our verse for today comes from Acts 14:4, “But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles.”
“A house divided against itself, cannot stand.” You probably know these familiar words, and you might even remember that they were spoken by Abraham Lincoln. You might not recall, however, that he said them during a speech given after he had been nominated to be an Illinois senator, not while he was President. In fact, Lincoln lost the election for the US Senate to Stephen Douglas, whom he famously debated in a series of seven debates leading up to the election. The debates were held in seven of the state’s nine congressional districts, and the topic was slavery. Douglas was a supporter of popular sovereignty, which allowed each state to determine for itself whether slavery would be legal or not, while Lincoln was strongly against slavery in all cases.
Lincoln’s famous words prophesied his belief that America would either become a nation entirely free or a nation permissive of slavery. And even though Lincoln won the popular vote for the seat, at that time the state legislators decided who won, and they chose Douglas. Nevertheless, the debates and Lincoln’s campaign made him into a national figure, and he went on to win the presidential race two years later. And from there, we know the rest of the story. Division became the theme of the nation, eventually leading to civil war and the assassination of Lincoln one month after he was sworn in for his second term.
Ugly doesn’t capture the look of division. It is so much worse than that. Homes are destroyed by it, churches are split over it, and people are killed for it. Even when it is contained within the heart of one, to be divided within yourself over an issue is distressing and agonizing and can lead to poor, if not destructive, decisions. And so, we have the frequent call from Jesus and His word for unity. But where two wills exist, that unity may meet resistance. Then, what gives? Or should I say, who gives? Are you one who clings to your own popular sovereignty, deciding for yourself? Or do you submit to the King who rightly discerns and decrees out of love and righteousness? The choice has always been that clear, from the dawning of man. Choose again today your side.
As we seek Him today, lay down your will for the joy of the Lord and the peace and presence that comes from obeying your loving Father.