Chapter 14 - A Kingdom Torn in Two
Earlier this year I invested quite a bit of my time watching Ken Burns' Civil War documentary. Like every other red-blooded American kid I studied the Civil War in school but I had never quite realized the impact that event had on our country until I watched this gripping series. It really is quite amazing that the country was able to stay together after four years of brutality.
One thing that happens when countries experience times like that is that it is impossible for them to really live out the reason they exist. A majority of time, resources, and energy is devoted to simply surviving rather than concentrating on growth, expansion and serving its citizens.
Disunity always results in dysfunction.
And that's what we see in Chapter 14. The kingdom of Israel is no longer unified and the results are disastrous. Instead of being a light to the world, God's people struggle to survive, both politically and spiritually. No longer are kings and queens beating paths to Jerusalem to sit at the feet of Solomon. The only reason they journey to Jerusalem is in a military attack! God's people are under siege and the distractions prevent them from living out the reason for their existence.
Remind you of anything?
Individual churches and the church universal can be decimated by disunity. When parties are warring within there is little energy to reach out. And even when we reach out who wants to join a community that is at war? Disunity prevents a church from being a church.
That may be why Jesus prayed for his disciples to be unified. One of Jesus' last prayers before the crucifixion is recorded in John 17 and an overarching theme of this prayer is of the unity of believers. Listen carefully to Jesus' plea:
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one: I in them and you in me. May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
Jesus recognized the power of unity and he prayed for it.
Here at Park Avenue we have adopted Psalm 133 as a guiding principle for our work. Verse 1 beautifully states, "How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity! "
Last week I committed to making wisdom a priority in my prayer life. This week unity joins that list.