Divide and conquer is the best strategy to attain and maintain power. In all of my school debates and team events, I remember that in order to win, we would divide and conquer the opposing team. Essentially, you identify which relationships or team members are strong and then proceed to undermine those relationships and interactions, thereby causing disunity in the team. Not a new strategy, our enemy has been using it for many years to break down the unity in the body of Christ and thereby disable us as believers.
United we as individuals stand and can take ground for the Kingdom, divided we have no strength or power.
We have unity as members of the body of Christ (Eph 3:6) with Christ as the cornerstone (Eph 2:20) and foundation (1 Cor 3:11) of that unity. Together we have “fellowship with the Spirit” (Phil 2:1) which causes us to “stand firm in one spirit” and “contend as one man for the gospel.” (Phil 1:27) The Spirit causes us to be “like minded,” “one in spirit and in purpose” (Phil 2:2).
When Paul writes to the Philippians, his one desire is to find “that you stand firm in One Spirit, with One mind, striving side by side for the faith of the gospel.” (Phil 1:27) In his letter he addresses the unity of believers and false teachers, who will always be outside the unity of the church, even though they are among us.
The enemy has two main strategies when it comes to breaking down unity:
- To make you depend on yourself and not the Spirit
- To break your dependence on God, by having you operate in fear.
How does the enemy start to create division?
The enemy will oppose you (Phil 1:27-30) exposing you to worry, discouragement, impatience, or get you to be upset about something. You may even fail horribly or lose something you were expecting. He will cause a breach between yourself and your fellow workers, friends, family etc. Creating a split or divide, where suspicion is created; smoldering resentments are unaddressed; or personal conflicts are unresolved. Then he will stop communication, where people don’t talk, look down on others, cut them off from conversation or break contact or fellowship.
Either way, we have been divided and thereby conquered, because we are nullified in the fight of faith.
Someone once said to me: “When you appear before God, He will not look you over for medals, He will look you over for scars.” Maintaining unity in the body of Christ does not imply that there will never be anyone who hurts you deeply. Being united with Christ in His body does mean pain and suffering (Phil 1:29) and this suffering will probably be at the hands of people. Even Paul experienced deep emotional and physical pain in his relations with people, and here I personally believe, that his thorn in the flesh had more to do with certain people than an actual physical thorn.
Nevertheless, being in the body of Christ implies great joy, and great pain. We are called to maintain the unity of the body, because even though we are believers, we are still sinners. Our enemy will use our weaknesses to divide and conquer us. If you have been hurt in church, or even by another believer, ask yourself what needs to be done to neutralize the strategy of the enemy and restore unity.
“If you’ve gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends.”
Don’t allow the enemy to divide and conquer in your life.
Father help me to recognize the strategies of the enemy which aim to divide believers from each other. Help me to ensure that I myself do not contribute to disunity, by allowing matters to be unaddressed in my heart. Help me to maintain peace with everyone in my immediate circle and promote peace amongst believers where ever I go. Help me to remember that being part of the Body of Christ, does mean that other members of the body may hurt me, but help me to be responsible and ensure that those hurts do not cause division.