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Saturday, September 21, 2013

A House Divided

Since becoming a Catholic in 2005 I've grown increasingly aware of the disastrous division Satan has fostered within Christ's Body, which is the entire Church (e.g. Ephesians 4:1-6; Colossians 1:24). I wrote this essay a couple of decades ago -- long before I became a Roman Catholic in theology, and from my experiences over those years I can recognize the truth in the Lord Jesus' words: a house divided against itself cannot stand.

And so I pray the Holy Spirit unify us. Our world is at the precipice of eternal destruction while Christ's sheep bite and devour each other. Will you join me in prayer?
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I don’t know if the Hollywood version of the battle is true, but the story makes for an intriguing spiritual parallel. Tobruk, Libya’s north-eastern port city was site of many prolonged and bloody battles during World War II. German troops and their Italian allies recognized the value of its strategic location. And so did the British.
 
During the height of the war, a small group of commandos set out across 800 miles of Libyan Desert to destroy the German fuel-depot at Tobruk.  Several nights into their trek they spotted a dust plume on the horizon. It belonged to an Italian convoy wending its way toward them. Fortunately for the Allies, a large sand-dune hid them from the enemy column. Without safe alternatives, they settled down to wait for the Italians to pass. However, when the convoy reached the other side of the dune, the Italians stopped their tanks and began setting camp for the night. The allied commandos could do nothing but wait for day-break when the Italians would continue on their way.
 
The night wore on without incident until commando scouts spotted another string of armored vehicles moving toward them from the opposite direction. This one belonged to Germans.
 
Caught in the middle, the allies knew it was only a matter of time before one group or the other discovered them. In desperation, they executed a daring coup de grace and fired mortars toward the Germans while simultaneously firing across the dune at the Italians. The commandos hoped each army, hidden by the dark, would think the other fired on them.
 
The plan worked. Within moments the Germans and the Italians rained destruction on each other. In the conflagration, the commandos escaped into the night. A few days later, the fuel farm at Tobruk exploded in flames. The small band of warriors successfully completed their mission.
 
Scripture repeatedly makes the point; I believe so we won’t miss it: humanity is engaged in a deadly, bloody spiritual warfare waged by an enemy whose mission is to destroy us. All of us. The only force able to thwart Satan from completing his objective is Jesus Christ’s Church -- His Body (Matthew 16:18; Ephesians 6:10-18).

Knowing the Church is an overwhelmingly superior force, Satan has for millennia executed a nearly flawless strategy against it. Instead of a direct frontal attack, he hides in darkness, firing volleys to generate bigotry, exclusivity, pride, and greed at different groups within Christ’s Body. Group A, thinking Group B to be the enemy, diverts its energies from the Great Commission and wages battle against it. Meanwhile, group B thinks likewise of group C, and before long D through Z enter the fray until the Church is embroiled in a seething cauldron, devouring each other – and freeing Satan to move on toward his ultimate objective.

When the Germans and Italians surrounded them, no one in the small group of commandos cared about the race or denominational label of the person in the next foxhole. Only one thing mattered: work as a team to win the objective.

The Lord of the Church has called us to win our world for Himself. That Great Commission requires the undivided efforts of everyone on Christ’s “team.” Oh, Lord! Help us to turn our weapons away from each other and take aim against the true adversary.

 

6 comments:

Christian LeBlanc said...

Indeed the devil likes to divide and conquer.

Rich Maffeo said...

The strategy has worked for millennia. Why change what works?

Barb Schoeneberger said...

What's really difficult for me is to put up with the constant Catholic bashing by other Christian sects. Naturally I want everyone to come to the fullness of truth and know the joy of the seven Sacraments and unity under the Pope, but I realize that we are all on a journey and some people aren't there yet. Certain family members seem to be on a crusade against the Church. Today I realized that God doesn't want me to deal with this but instead to focus on my relationship with Him. Others are more competent than I to deal with this. But I do feel the division in my heart. If only we all ran after truth as energetically as we run after error!

Rich Maffeo said...

Unfortunately, Barb, it goes both ways. I have been in Catholic Churches that seemed to delight in finding fault with our Protestant brethren, and have spoken with Orthodox pastors who have little good to say about either Catholics or Protestants. God help us!

Barb Schoeneberger said...

Wow!I grew up Catholic under a dominant Benedictine influence and even when we lived places where that influence wasn't present I don't recall Protestant bashing. Now I see that God really blessed our family by putting us in places where our relationship with Jesus Christ was the focus. Of course, we had to learn our Faith and Catholic History, but I wasn't concerned about Luther or Calvin or their followers. My attitude has always been, I wish everybody would become Catholic so everyone would have the sacraments and the fullness of truth. Maybe because in my early years there was a lot of emphasis in the Catholic school I attended on missionary work. Real missionary work and missionary mentality builds up and sanctifies. It doesn't tear down and divide.

Rich Maffeo said...

"Real missionary work and missionary mentality builds up and sanctifies. It doesn't tear down and divide."

I could not have said it any better.