Summary: God blesses when we get behind the vision He ordains. Division threatens to side track the church from His vision. This sermon looks at the importance of seeking unity, but not at the cost of the vision God calls us to follow.
Blessing, Division, and Vision
1 Then Abram went up from Egypt, he and his wife and all that he had, and Lot with him, to the South.
2 Abram was very rich in livestock, in silver, and in gold.
3 And he went on his journey from the South as far as Bethel, to the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Ai,
4 to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the LORD.
5 Lot also, who went with Abram, had flocks and herds and tents.
6 Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together.
7 And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram’s livestock and the herdsmen of Lot’s livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land.
8 So Abram said to Lot, "Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren.
9 "Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left."
10 And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar.
11 Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other.
When God blesses, division often follows. In the study on the Tower of Babel, I spoke of division as a part of God withdrawing his blessings. When a church is blessed, they often get ‘blessing focused’ and lose sight of the purpose of God’s blessing. In this study, I will look at another reason for division. The blessings of God separate the spiritual from the carnal. Division isn’t always a tragedy. When a leader gets a call from God and a vision for His purpose, he begins to follow that purpose. God blesses someone’s life because they are going where God is going and doing what God has ordained. When we follow God, blessings follow us. People are drawn to success. Division follows success because not everyone drawn has the mind to do God’s will. Blessings cause division as people are separated into two groups; those who are focused on what God is doing and those who are focused on what God is giving. Those who aren’t spiritually minded with follow the blessing at the cost of sacrificing the purposes of the One who provides the blessing. I have never been in a church that did not have divisions during times of phenomenal growth. This becomes a tragedy only when the leaders get sidetracked by trying to hold everything or everyone together. They lose the vision for God’s will and becomes focused on reconciling the disputes between people. I recognize the need to address issues as they arise, but when people can’t or won’t get behind the vision, there is no way to reconcile and we must be willing to part ways. Unity at the expense of God’s plan is worse than a split in ways. We need to be reconcilers, but not at the cost of abandoning our call. We are commanded to pursue peace with all men. Sometimes parting ways is the only way to living peaceably. The important thing is that we never part from pursuing God’s call. God can’t bless those who cause division, but we also can’t please everyone. The person who pleases everyone accomplishes nothing.
When God is working, those who are unwilling to focus on God’s plan will have trouble adjusting. People focused on self-gain or self-fulfillment will only stand behind decisions that continue to offer them the personal fulfillment they are seeking. The work that God is doing will be hindered until paths part. I say this at the risk of sounding divisive. I believe we should first try to reconcile and build up others to gain a spiritually strong life. The first option is to lift up others into a closer walk with God. Only then can others catch our vision. We divide from those who don’t want God’s plan; we don’t leave behind those who are not yet ready. It is our responsibility to disciple and equip those who want a deeper walk with Christ. We don’t know who God will call us to disciple. We can only invest our lives in those around us and be used by God to equip those who respond. It is important for leaders to recognize that when God’s leading goes against the grain, people will resist unless they are godly focused. We need to be first be disciplers. We also are commanded to be reconcilers, but not at the cost of abandoning our call. If we have done everything possible to nurture people spiritual and have not left them behind, then, I believe we are free to separate from those who do not want to pursue a higher purpose than personal benefit. If we leave our brothers and sisters behind, then division is the result of a failure to disciple and nurture as Jesus commanded.