Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Two Religions of the South

By Allen White

Then they brought him a demon-possessed man who was blind and mute, and Jesus healed him, so that he could both talk and see. All the people were astonished and said, “Could this be the Son of David?”

But when the Pharisees heard this, they said, “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons.”

Jesus knew their thoughts and said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself will be ruined, and every city or household divided against itself will not stand. If Satan drives out Satan, he is divided against himself. How then can his kingdom stand? And if I drive out demons by Beelzebul, by whom do your people drive them out? So then, they will be your judges. But if it is by the Spirit of God that I drive out demons, then the kingdom of God has come upon you.

 “Or again, how can anyone enter a strong man’s house and carry off his possessions unless he first ties up the strong man? Then he can plunder his house. Matthew 12:22-29

In the South, there are two major religions – Christianity and football. Folks are loyal to their churches and they’re loyal to their teams. In South Carolina that team is either Clemson or USC.

Every once in a while, you will encounter a house divided. Whether the spouses attended the universities or not, one wears orange and purple, while the other wears garnet and black. For some, it’s a joke. For others, it’s downright blasphemy.

I even have a friend who has degrees from both schools. I asked if he has trouble getting along with himself. Now, he is a licensed counselor, so maybe that answers the question.

The ordinary people who witnessed Jesus’ miracles jumped to a conclusion: this was the Son of David, the Messiah. The Pharisees wouldn’t allow that conclusion. They scoffed, “His power must come from the devil.” But, Jesus called them on it.

Let’s say you were running a business called Satan, Inc. (don’t go there). Your job as CEO of Satan, Inc. is to steal, kill and destroy as many folks as possible (John 10:10). Demons, fear and insecurity are in your arsenal. You can easily wreak havoc on the population. Then, one day you get a crazy idea.

You decide to flaunt your power by taking a notoriously demon-possessed person and casting his demons out. While the crowd was amazed, you now freed a man who was once under your control and you have a few demons out of a job. It’s not good for business at Satan, Inc.

If Jesus was Beelzebub, then He would have been in the business of installation, not removal. Demons go in, influence goes up at Satan, Inc. Demons get cast out, influence goes down. Jesus was bad for Satan’s business. But, He was also bad for the Pharisees’ business.

Jesus wasn’t the knight in shining armor that the Pharisees expected. He didn’t show up on the scene to relieve the Jews from Roman oppression. Besides, if Jesus came to fulfill the Law, then what would the Pharisees hold over people’s heads? Jesus didn’t fit into their system. Their house was divided.

But, how can you divide yourself between godly things and godly things? Weren’t the religious people godly? Then, what was Jesus? Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6). What does that make the Pharisees?

You can’t mix different beliefs just to create something that works for you. In the end, you create a house divided. This runs deeper than football allegiances, though football runs pretty deep.

You can’t serve God for salvation, yet resist Him when it comes to obedience. You can’t trust Jesus for Heaven, yet continue to nurture unsurrendered parts of your heart. You can’t just love Jesus for the convenient and the comfortable. He often calls us to inconvenience and sacrifice. Anything less than a full commitment is actually no commitment at all.

Where is your personal house divided? Are you a different person in business than you are in church? How does God affect your life on a daily basis? Do you consult Him? Do you read His Word?

I’m not trying to make you feel bad. If your answers were mostly “no” in that last paragraph, I just want you to understand that you’re missing out on so much of what God has for you. The distractions of this world have put up a dividing wall in your heart. A divided life is a distracted life. It’s a stressful life. It’s a heavy burden. Jesus wants you to be free. What’s keep you from finding your freedom?

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