A House Divided

A House Divided

“And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” Mk 3: 25

“If we could first know where we are and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do and how to do it.” These words from Abraham Lincoln serve as a healthy reminder for those who seek to predict the future of our great nation. He delivered these words on the steps of the Illinois State Capitol shortly after accepting the Republican Party’s nomination to run for the U.S. Senate.

His opponent, incumbent Democratic U.S. Senator, Stephen A. Douglas, believed in the rights of new territories to determine their own stance regarding slavery. He thought this path would allow northern anti-slavery states to peacefully coexist with southern slavery states. Abraham Lincoln vehemently disagreed and put those feelings into words,

“A house divided against itself cannot stand. I believe this government cannot endure, permanently, half slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved – I do not expect the house to fall – but I do expect it will cease to be divided.”

Lincoln failed to defeat Douglas in that race, but two years later was elected President of the United States of America. His election prompted seven southern states to immediately form the Confederate States of America. Then, just one month into office, the Confederate States launched an attack on Fort Sumter and the Civil War began. Now we look back at Lincoln’s words not as insight, but prophecy.

When Lincoln delivered these words he was not the most religious man. Matter of fact, he often ridiculed religion until later in life when his faith became more enduring. Yet, no matter what he said publicly, this speech reveals his true self. Lincoln knew his Bible and quoted it often. More importantly, he believed something was deeper at work in the world than political opinion and human interaction.

Our nation was formed on the principle of divided opinions being argued out for the common good of the people within this nation. No one party, nor one person knows fully the outcome of any decision made. We are given to each other to be a community and being a community is hard work. A divided nation cannot stand, but in the power of the Holy Spirit, it cannot be dissolved either.

Click to read: Mark 3: 22-30

Click to read Abraham Lincoln’s speech

Reflection Questions:

  • When has an opinion of yours turned out to be completely wrong? Or, a decision you made did not work out they way you intended?
  • What could have prevented this from happening?
  • What does it take for communities to remain strong?
  • How does the Holy Spirit shape your view of your neighbor?

Photo Courtesy of unsplash.com and Peter Hershey

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