Mark 3:24-25 (NIV)
24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.
July 2, 1863, would become an unforgettable day for Colonel Joshua L. Chamberlain’s 20th Maine regiment. Union scouts realized that no one was defending Little Round Top, the end of the Union line, against the Confederate army. If the Confederates were to conquer Little Round Top, it would allow them to attack the Union rear and force Union evacuation of Cemetery Ridge. This would ensure a Confederate stronghold in the north, and could potentially swing the Civil war in favor of the Confederate army.
Colonel Strong Vincent quickly took it upon himself to place four regiments in the area. One of these regiments was the 20th Maine. Vincent’s orders to Chamberlain were: “Hold the ground at all cost!” And that is what Chamberlain did. He encouraged his soldiers to stand strong, no matter what, and to cover for one another. Fortunately for him, the soldiers were fond of their leader. They had no idea, however, that the enemy was just a few minutes away.
The 20th Maine had no time to prepare themselves for the onslaught. Nonetheless, they remembered the importance of standing as one, for if they were not united, they would be easily overcome. For more than an hour, waves of Alabamian Confederates repeatedly stormed the hillside from below, but each time they were repelled. Despite the immense cost to their numbers, the Union line held. It was so bad that puddles of blood could be seen everywhere. Even Colonel Strong Vincent was fatally injured.
To the horror of the 20th Maine, it was soon discovered that they were running out of ammunition. How could they keep on withholding attack after attack without bullets? Desperate, Colonel Chamberlain ordered a bayonet charge. Fortunately for them, the Confederates were also running low on ammo, and the 20th Maine succeeded in driving them back for good. The union left flank remained secure, all because Union soldiers stayed focused on their task, ready to die for the cause. They never gave in to discouragement.
Colonel Chamberlain, a professor before war, was awarded the Medal of Honor. Eventually he was elected Governor of Maine.
United we are truly much stronger than divided. In fact, division always leads to defeat! Yet somehow, many churches have gone to the path of disunity. Very few hold on to the truth, “That all of them (those believing in Jesus, the Christ) may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you.” (John 17: 21). We are completely missing the point! It is not about ourselves, it’s about God who came to lead us to genuine unity, such as was evident in the first century church: “All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.” (Acts 4:32)
In all honesty, who were closer to God? The first century church? Or the one of the 21st century?
Imagine what would happen if we stopped clinging to our denominations, and instead, began to cling to Jesus? As genuine love would become the norm, denominational lines would begin to fade, and we would find our churches beginning to resemble the church of the first century!
Still, we have another stumbling block in our way. Even within our church walls, however, many members are not united. Everyone tends to think only about themselves!
If we would focus only on Jesus and Him alone, things would change. “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we're in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed—that exhilarating finish in and with God—he could put up with anything along the way: Cross, shame, whatever. And now he's there, in the place of honor, right alongside God. When you find yourselves flagging in your faith, go over that story again, item by item, that long litany of hostility he plowed through. That will shoot adrenaline into your souls!” (Heb 12:2-3)
Just like the men of the 20th Main, standing strong in unity and focusing on their leader, Colonel Chamberlain, held off the Confederate army, these stumbling blocks in our churches can also be overcome. But only if we focus on our commander of faith, Jesus Christ!
Imagine what would happen to this world. Jesus would become real on planet Earth, as there would be no denying that He is real. Poverty would be a thing of the past because our priorities would change from looking out for ourselves to reaching out to others. We would love what God loves. We would literally become His hands and feet, proclaiming the Good News everywhere we could.
Victory is ours...But only if we stand united.
Dear Lord, we pray that we would stand united in You. Help us not become tied up with denominations and the things of this world instead help us to focus on You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.