“And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.”
~ Mark 3.25
These words have often been attributed to a speech delivered in 1858 by Abraham Lincoln, the sixteenth president of the United States. But, the words actually belong to Jesus. Lincoln was talking about slavery: “I believe this government cannot endure, permanently half slave and half free.” Jesus was talking about Satan: “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand” (Mark 3.23-26, NRSV).
The crowd had come while Jesus was having dinner but there were so many that his dinner plans were cancelled: “…and the crowd came together again, so that they could not even eat” (Mark 3.20). Jesus puts down his plate and serving utensils and he serves him a parable that destroyed the appetite for confusion that had been stirred by the false claims of the scribes.
Well, the body of Christ is divided. We are a black church and a white church, a red church and a brown church, a beige church. Our members don’t work together because they are not the same social coloring.
Our body is the temple of God. It is a house. And if we are living a racialized existence, identifying by the social coloring of skin, then it too is a house divided. We have not only turned on our fellow brothers and sisters in the faith but on ourselves. Race makes us fight against parts of our selves: our hair texture, shape of nose and eyes, size of lips, color of hair.
I suggest that we get up from the Communion table, that we put down the bread that represents his body broken for us and the cup of his suffering, that we explain how Christians can cast out Christians. We will not be able to stand for the faith or against our enemy, Satan, if we remain divided.