One day Jesus delivered a man from a demon. On cue, the Pharisees criticized him, saying, "He drives out demons by the power of Beelzebul, the prince of demons." Jesus questions their logic. "Really? A kingdom divided against itself will fall, won't it? If Satan is divided against himself, how will his kingdom stand?" (See Matthew 12:26).
This is an important principle. If Satan is divided against himself, his kingdom cannot stand. Likewise, if the church is divided against itself, it cannot stand. And this is a strategy that Satan has been using against us from the beginning of time and largely succeeding. Divide and rule. The British developed the divide-and-rule strategy into a fine art allowing the tiny nation to conquer half the world. But Satan got there long before the British did, and he does this in the church with terrible consequences.
What's the antidote? Quite obviously, it is unity. Consider the fingers of one hand. They can be easily broken if they are spread out. But if they clench themselves into a fist, not only can it not be broken, it can be used to fight. And we need to fight, not with each other, but with the enemy who divides. Jesus knew he would do this, so one of his final prayers to the Father before his Passion was for unity. He said: "(I pray) that they may be one as we are one — I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity" (John 17:22-23). He went on to say that THEN the world would know that Jesus came from the Father! (see John 17:23).
Paul, too, urged unity several times: "I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought" (1 Corinthians 1:10). He also said: "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (Ephesians 4:3). Unity is the way of God. Division is the way of the devil.
The way toward unity is to understand believers are part of one body with a single head. Paul stated it clearly: "And Christ is the head of the body, the church!" (Colossians 1:18). We become disunited when we don't choose Christ as our head but choose human beings instead. Paul scolded: "You are still worldly. For since there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not worldly? Are you not acting like mere humans? For when one says, "I follow Paul," and another, "I follow Apollos," are you not mere human beings (acting worldly)?" (1 Corinthians 3:3-4).
Let us choose to live in unity, understanding that we have enough to bind us. "There is," as Paul put it so eloquently, "one body and one Spirit, one hope; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all" (Ephesians 4:4-6). Let that serve to unite us.