I think that’s been a military strategy for centuries – divide and conquer. I guess the thinking is that when the opponent is split up into smaller units, it is easier to overpower and defeat them. Jesus even said as much when He said,
“If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. I f a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.” (Mark 3:24-26)
But Satan doesn’t oppose himself, he opposes God and all who belong to God. Satan’s goal is to divide us from our Creator God and subsequently to divide us from each other. We are easy prey when we are isolated and alone. Just as lions and other beasts of prey separate their intended victims from their herd or flock in order to overpower and capture them, Satan also hunts his prey in the same manner. Peter warns about this very thing in his letter to believers, saying –
“Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8)
We first saw Satan employ this divide and conquer strategy in the Garden. Satan needed to get Eve alone in order to deceive her. When Satan succeeded in getting Eve to question God, to doubt God and to believe his lies, the result was Eve and her husband Adam became separated from God. In fact, the first thing they did was to hide from God. They also found themselves at odds with each other. The perfect peace of the Garden was gone forever.
Today we are experiencing the “wars and rumors of wars” that deception and division ultimately bring about. Interesting that those are the two tools the devil uses to accomplish his evil purposes – deception and division. He is called “the father of lies” for a reason, after all. Jesus said this about him –
“He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” (John 8:44)
This certainly seems to be a time in history when division runs rampant and runs deep. Here in the U.S. we have been experiencing division politically, racially, by gender, by economic status, by religious beliefs, and lately by any viewpoint such as mask vs. no mask or vaccine vs. no vaccine or mandates vs. individual choice. There are so many categories and divisions (many created and artificial) that it is hard to keep up with them all. If one thing doesn’t separate me from my friends, neighbors and coworkers, something else will. All this division leads to isolation and isolation allows the enemy of our souls to defeat and destroy us one person at a time.
Deep divisions, however, are not unique to this time in history. Jesus also lived in a deeply divided culture, in a deeply divided world. Jesus came to bring unity, peace and life rather than division, strife and death. Paul wrote these words in Colossians 3:11 –
“Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.”
Paul wrote basically the same thing in his letter to the Galatians, saying –
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)
Interesting that Jesus is a unifier while Satan is a divider. But then, they are polar opposites in every way. Our God is a God of reconciliation, wanting us to be reconciled to Himself and to each other. When we have peace with God, that paves the way for us to have peace within ourselves and to have peace with each other. It should be no surprise that one of Jesus’s names is “the Prince of peace.”
And it is also no surprise that our enemy operates by dividing us from each other and then destroying us when we are isolated and alone. That’s his game plan – divide and conquer. But God knows we do best when connected to others because we were created to live in community.
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10)
Community functions best when it practices inclusion. There is much talk about inclusion today, while at the same time those in power and leadership positions, with the aid of the media, continue to create endless categories of division among us, making it more difficult for the power and possibilities of life lived with connection in community to be experienced. They have us so focused on our differences (I thought diversity was good?) that we can’t seem to come together. They know we are easier to control and to manipulate if we are divided among ourselves, rather than united by any shared purposes and values.
Jesus is the One who practices inclusion perfectly, probably because He is the original author of inclusion. We just read that in Christ there is neither “Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, . . . but we are all one in Christ Jesus.” At that time in history Jew vs. Gentile was a huge racial divide as was being a Samaritan for instance, which was another racial division. Today those words could read, “in Christ there is neither black nor white, liberal nor conservative, vaccinated nor unvaccinated, rich nor poor . . .” Well, you get the idea. While there are an infinite number of things that we can choose to let separate us from one another, in Christ all those divisions disappear. He is an all inclusive God.
“The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)
Did you catch that? God wants everyone to come to Him. His gracious invitation excludes no one. God is all about inclusion – all about welcoming in the previously unwelcome, the outcasts. In Zephaniah God says this,
“At that time I will deal with all who oppressed you; I will rescue the lame and gather those who have been scattered. (those who have been exiled, the outcast) I will give them praise and honor in every land where they were put to shame.” (Zephaniah 3:19)
People talk about diversity, equity and inclusion as if it is something brand new. But our Creator God is not only an all-inclusive God, He is the author and originator of all diversity. If you doubt this, all you have to do is to look around you. The infinite diversity of all creation should make this clear as we observe nature in all its forms. And the pinnacle of God’s creation, the human race, is no exception. In our one race, the human race, we behold infinite diversity of form and personality, yet all – each one of us is created in His image.
While God is the originator of diversity and inclusion, He is the God of equality not equity. We know that although all have equal opportunity before God,
“And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved;” (Joel 2:32)
“Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God – children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John 1:12)
outcomes are not equal because those outcomes depend on the choices of the individual and people given free will are going to make different choices. Here again, Satan, the enemy of our souls, has taken what God authored, diversity, equality and inclusion – and twisted God’s truth into something unrecognizable in our current culture. The very voices that clamor for inclusion at every turn, are the same voices creating division at every opportunity. Could it be that by “inclusion” they simply mean the forced acceptance of behaviors and practices that are clearly against God’s good, perfect and pleasing will for each and every life He created?
Satan uses deception to divide us in order to conquer us, that he might destroy our lives one person, one family, one community, one country at a time. Fortunately, our Creator is a God of reconciliation, not division. Division brings conflict, reconciliation brings peace. Jesus came that we might be reconciled to God and to each other.
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-19)
God intended for us to experience unity through reconciliation and the peace unity brings, not the chaos and conflict that comes as a result of division. In Psalm 133:1 I read these words,
“How good and pleasant it is when brothers live together in unity!”
That’s God’s desire for us – to live connected to others in peace, not divided from others and therefore isolated. To that end I read what God did in Ephesians 2:13-19,
“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in His flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility. He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.”
No longer foreigners or aliens – no longer separated from God or separated from each other! That’s the Good News! And no one is excluded. Our enemy seeks to divide us and so to conquer us, but in Christ we have the protection unity provides.
“For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body – whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free – and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.” (1 Corinthians 12:13)
Today, when deception and division seem to be prevailing, I am thankful that my Heavenly Father’s presence brings truth, reconciliation and peace. All things I long to experience.
“The Lord is good to all; He has compassion on all He has made.” (Psalm 145:9)
sincerely, Grace Day