So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: “How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come.
It always happens this way – something happens and then it leads to something else. And then something else happens which leads to something else again. And so it goes on and on. I call it an “If – Then.”
Have you ever seen a Domino Shows? It’s where they push over one domino and that leads to all these other dominos falling? That’s certainly an example of a “If – Then.” It’s not only how dominos work, but also how life is lived, It’s also how attacks work.
I remember one attack very well. It still makes my stomach churn. Someone had falsely accused me of stealing from the company. They wrote a long and vicious email to the company owner. Thinking I had to defend myself and my reputation, I blasted a long email to the company owner, destroying each and every accusation. It made me feel better for about five minutes but didn’t really help.
But when Jesus responds to an If, he really knows how to deliver the Then. You’ll notice that he doesn’t go after each and every little detail, correcting all the individual things that were wrong with the attack. Instead, he does three things that we should follow when attacked.
1. Step Back – he doesn’t get bogged down in all the minor details but tries to refocus the conversation and attack.
2. Ask Questions – rather than go through a list of things, he honors the people listening by looking to them to figure it out for themselves.
3. Don’t Directly Answer – it’s so easy to just blast people with our opinions of what’s true. But it rarely helps those listening.
Someone once said that we really don’t need to be told that we’re wrong, we need to be shown. After all, our mother, our boss, our mate, our pastors, have all been telling us that we’re wrong all our lives. And how much have we changed? I’d like to suggest that there’s been precious little change in our lives through telling us all the wrongs we’ve done. How wrong we are.
Instead, we need to be shown. We are shown when we face our words, thoughts, actions, and attitudes directly for ourselves. This is exactly what Jesus does, he asks a question that they have to answer for themselves. Instead of telling them that they are dummies or sinners, he turns the question back to them to figure out, so they can see it for themselves, so they can be shown.
Getting a report card, annual performance evaluation, or getting told that we’ve screwed up is not going to move the needle for the way we live our life. As a matter of fact, if the history of my life is any help, I always, always, always dig my heels in deeper whenever someone tells me that I’m wrong.
It always raises what little hair I still have on the back of my neck and lifts my stubbornness to new heights. It’s like drinking a large bottle of Stubborn-ade It renews and reinvigorates my commitment, strength, and resolve not to change one little bit. And oh, not to mention, so I can prove them wrong and watch them eat their words.
But Jesus doesn’t treat them that way. And he doesn’t treat us that way either.
Don’t you realize how patient he is being with you? Or don’t you care? Can’t you see that he has been waiting all this time without punishing you, to give you time to turn from your sin? His kindness is meant to lead you to repentance.
Romans 2:4 TLB
Think about how patient God’s been with you. With me. Did he jump down from heaven and stomp on us at the first misstep? Did he just throw us to the wolves when we accidently, or purposefully, walked away from him?
The very short answer is no. He didn’t. He’s always patient. Always kind. Always good. Always looking for us to turn back to him. And when we repent, turn back to him, he always receives.
So, what’s going to be our response to God’s If – Then? If he’s patient and kind, or should I say when he’s patient and kind, what’s our “Then” going to look like? Will we respond in repentance? Will our next step be to be to fall down and say, “Be merciful to me, a sinner?”
That’s the “If – Then” that Jesus is looking for. Longing for. He’s already done the “If”. The “Then” is now up to us.