Our Failed Witness - The Broken Family

A Jewish town had a shortage of men for wedding purposes, so they had to import men from other towns. One day a groom-to-be arrived on a train, and two mother-in-laws-to-be were waiting for him, each claiming ownership on him.

A rabbi was called to solve the problem. After a few minutes of thought, he said: "If this is the situation, you both want the groom, we'll cut him in half and give each one of you half of him."

To this replied one woman: "If that's the case, give him to the other woman."

The rabbi said: "Do that. The one willing to cut him in half, is the real mother-in-law!" (from Ahavat Israel)

Jesus taught:
“Every kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, and no city or house divided against itself will stand.”  Matt 12:25 (ESV)

The original audience would have understood this passage much more vividly because they were the recipients of what became the model for dividing and conquering.  In the mid 50s BC, a Jew named Alexander led a nearly successful uprising in Judea.  This uprising was eventually stopped by Aulus Gabinius, a Roman general under Julius Caesar.  After stopping the uprising, he divided Judea into five sanhedrins where Jewish priests would rule each one.  By doing this, he prevented the Jews from being united.  As we could see at the time of Jesus, the Sadducees, Pharisses, Essenes, and Zealots were all fighting against one another; consequently, the Romans did not have to worry about them unify and fighting together against their oppressor.  Divide and conquer.  It’s been a successful strategy of oppressors for over 2000 years.

So when Jesus said that a kingdom divided against itself is laid waste, the original audience would know that the nation of Judea was nothing compared to its former glory.  It had been divided, and it had crumbled.

But that trick, divide and conquer, might have been first observed in recorded history in the 50s BC, but it is still a trick used today.  It appears to be one of Satan’s greatest tactics to prevent the church from being as effective as it can be.  Jesus, in his prayer in John 17, prayed that the church would be one.  
I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.  The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me [John 17:20-23 (ESV)].
But we have divided over various issues over time.  In the next few days, I'll talk about the church, but before moving on to that I want to talk about the unfortunate witness of Christians because of our families. 

We see division in our families. 

Barna released a survey around the turn of the century.  It showed the following:

It is through dividing us, whether it is in criticizing our spouse, or going even further through losing our love for one another and cheating on one another that our family loses its effective witness.  Chances are that some reading this come from a family that is already divided.  It’s sad and tough, and it was not God's design.  As far as it is up to you, live at peace with everyone.  Bring Jesus and his love back into those broken and hurting relationships.  That division that is there might be able to be mended.  Things probably won’t go back to the way they were, but they could. 

As followers of Jesus, we need to be people of peace and reconciliation because division in the family causes so much hurt and undue strife.  It’s sad all of the pain people have to go through because we fail at unity.  We fail to deal with one another in humility, patience, gentleness, and love.  May we learn to be patient, humble, gentle, and loving to those we interact with the most for the sake of our happiness and the witness of Jesus.