Friday, January 14, 2011

Drawing Up Lines

Luke 11:23 Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather with me scatters.

23 Ὁ μὴ ὢν μετ᾽ ἐμοῦ κατ᾽ ἐμοῦ ἐστιν, καὶ ὁ μὴ συνάγων μετ᾽ ἐμοῦ σκορπίζει.

This saying is part of Jesus' explanation to His disciples regarding what happens when an unclean spirit leaves someone.  He is responding to the charge that He casts out demons by Beelzebul.  He explains that if someone who is strong guards his house he is safe, but that someone stronger can overcome that person.  Jesus is asserting His power as being higher than the demons.  Right after this verse He makes the point that when an unclean spirit leaves a person it will eventually come back and bring other unclean spirits to make things even worse.

So why does this verse appear here?  Based on the context, it must have something to do with the theme of how He operates by the power of God and how Satan's house cannot be divided against itself.  In other words, I see Jesus drawing a line in the sand.  There's His team and there is Satan's team.  There can be no in-between.

The construct of ὁ μὴ is very literally translated "the one not."  Obviously the ESV captures this sense.  The one who is not with Jesus is against Jesus.  In fact, the one who does not gather with Him actually scatters.

I recently read an article about a woman who used to be a Planned Parenthood director, but after seeing the ultrasound for an abortion she had a change of heart.  She bemoans the splinters of the pro-life movement, particularly how Catholics and Protestants do not work together.  She has a point there.  We should work together for social causes like abortion.

But at some point we need to draw the line.  The Glenn Beck rally last year is a good example of that.  Glenn Beck is Mormon, but is admittedly not intensely devout.  Nevertheless, anyone who aligns himself with the god of Joseph Smith cannot possibly be aligned with the Triune God of Scripture.  It's just not possible.  Therefore, if we take this verse seriously, we see that he actually works against the cause of Christ, despite his talk of unity.

This extends to so many areas where we are tempted to compromise.  The real trick is determining where we can accept and where we must reject.  It gets down to what we call the gospel.  Anyone not confessing the true Jesus as Lord cannot be in that circle.  And, no matter how well-meaning that nice Jehovah's Witness, Mormon, Jew, or Muslim may be, that person is by definition against Jesus and His gospel.  At least that's how I read this.

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