Division Strongholds

by Morris Ruddick on November 30, 2012


(c) Morris E. Ruddick


“I urge you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and put obstacles in your way.” Romans 16:17 NIV

The King James translation says “to mark” those causing divisions. The “urging” in the Amplified is to be on your guard against them. The conclusion to this verse in the NIV is “to stay away from them;” and for the NKJ is “to avoid them.”

Paul’s strong words target those who misguide people spiritually. This blindness that undermines, that causes divisions and creates obstacles, is most damaging at leadership levels. What first manifests within individuals, can extend to creating havoc within communities, which explains Paul’s advice to mark and avoid them.

More frequently, its source is a willfulness stuck within a soulish arena; that has failed in penetrating the veil of the spiritual. Rooted in a pride that demands; it is a self-imposed blindness that undermines the work of the Spirit; a willful immaturity. Two examples illustrate.

At a gathering I recently attended, I heard the story being told by a Christian woman with leadership influence who indicated her weariness in waiting for an alignment of circumstances she was expecting from her husband. She chuckled as she described getting her husband’s attention, followed by her intended desires, by throwing a “hissy-fit.” A hissy-fit is a sudden outburst of anger, a temper tantrum in response to the frustration of dealing with something that quite often is premature or even trivial. The sad result to this story was a high cost due to this premature action.

My next illustration begins by explaining that I like to supplement my Bible readings with what I call source input. As a professional researcher, I understand that the richest truths come not from other’s conclusions, but by evaluations that are as close to source input as possible. To augment the truths of the word of God, I most frequently target source input from Jewish history and church history to compare how it fits with biblical principles and models.

Within that context, I recently was perusing an historical account of the sixth century British character Arthur. This was in the early days after Christianity had been introduced in Britain. The fictional story of Arthur made so popular almost ten centuries after he lived is filled with romantic notions of heroic kings and knights and of roundtables, magical swords and the intervention of white sorcery for the good of Britain. These popular perceptions have little resemblance to the reality of Arthur’s historicity. The historical Arthur was not a king, but the bastard son of a king. There were no Camelot castles with towers. Nor was there a Merlin during Arthur’s lifetime.

Arthur was a warlord in strife-torn Britain. While the truths of Christendom were being embraced, the institution of the church became a frequent participant in the struggle for power. It was a time of lawlessness with continual battles with the Saxons who sought to conquer the fertile British land. However, the ongoing conflicts with the Saxons were often a side issue to the internal skirmishes for control among the British tribal kings and warlords. Arthur was reputed for his leadership as a strategist, one embracing the big picture, who sought unity.

This backdrop of history shaped one historian’s fictional, but contextually historical story of a battle among the British tribes at a time the Saxons had penetrated British borders. While he kept most of the account true to supportable historical renderings, in his “Author’s Note” he recounts that he “couldn’t restrain himself” from splicing in the intervention of the mythical Merlin to lend some spice to the story.

The culminating juncture of his drama takes place with Arthur’s forces being vastly outnumbered, exhausted from the extended battle and at the point of annihilation at the hand of a group of other British tribes. At that point, Merlin calmly walks into the throes of the battle. Because of his acclaim and the respect the British had for the Druids, the battle was interrupted as leaders and warriors stopped fighting and on bended-knee gave respect and heed to what Merlin had come to say.

The description of his dramatic entrance noted that, to Merlin, this horrendous, raging battle was completely irrelevant. It was. The British tribes fighting among themselves should have been uniting against the Saxons.

The Stumbling Point
This sixth century British story prophetically paints a picture of the Body today. Functionally, much of the Body is divided and blind to the real battle. The conflicts within are irrelevant smokescreens. It punctuates the opening scripture:  those sowing seeds of division and creating obstacles to the faith of others will be known by their fruit and need to be avoided. Foundationally, it is an issue of Kingdom maturity, or rather the lack of it. The need is for the focus required to discern the issues that are truly relevant.

The prime seedbed of this chicken and egg Body maturity dilemma is more often found in seats of power. Proverbs points to ones who gain position without the Kingdom mettle to live up to it.
“Under three things the earth trembles, under four it cannot bear up:  a slave when he becomes king, and a fool when glutted with food; an unloved woman when she gets a husband and a maid when she succeeds her mistress.”
Proverbs 30:21-23

The very ones capable of leading others into progressively narrower paths of community-maturity become seduced by nonessential perversions of power. They become blind guides in their approach into the steps of mature pathways. They misguide those following with their deficient employment of gifts, precepts and guidance that spawn the fruit of division and stumbling blocks.
“Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better if a millstone were hung around his neck and he was cast into the sea.”
Matt 18:6

Division and spiritual obstacles create issues of distrust at both the individual and community levels that blur and blind the big picture, as the enticements of soul indulgences undermine the maturity process.

As the narrow path spoken of by Jesus progresses into maturity, at leadership levels the seduction becomes more subtle and deadly. It is the point when a new dimension emerges in the struggle for Kingdom maturity: willful immaturity. Willful immaturity is short-sighted, with soul demands that short-circuit the process. At the very threshold of maturity, a subtle transference of the factors emerging into maturity manifests into counterfeits, serving to undermine it.

Maturity and Vulnerability
Jesus constantly drilled his followers with the truth that following the Kingdom pathway begins by recognizing that we don’t operate like the world. While we are to be in the world, we are held to a higher, Kingdom standard. We are to be a culture within a culture without any mistake of identity. Among the many seeming paradoxes on how the Kingdom operates, Jesus stressed that spiritual maturity was not inner-directed, but outer-directed: we lead by serving.

This truth is foundational to being entrusted with leadership and power. It is linked to another Kingdom paradox: that leadership brings vulnerability. It involves risk, rather than the illusion of security embraced by the world. It’s not about us, but those we’re called to serve. This doesn’t ignore the importance of self-awareness, as self-awareness is an ongoing, foundational ingredient in the process of maturity.
“He who rules his own spirit is mightier than he who takes a city.”
Proverbs 16:32

Paul’s wisdom in the opening scripture parallels another key truth imparted by Jesus. He told his followers to beware of those who would betray them, but to KNOW that the betrayal, at their level, would yield opportunity (Matt 10:16-20). This response for those Jesus marked for leadership demands a trust that the world is devoid of.

This is a trust that has entered the supernatural, realistically knowing your self while knowing that God is in control, as we find that unique place of serving in community. This level of trust is not to be confused with shallow, phony humility or a “que sera, sera” (whatever will be, will be) orientation. It is a trust born of a maturity that gives no place to fear, offense or any response other than Spirit-led wisdom.

This trust reflects the meekness spoken of by Jesus that comes from a bridled strength and discipline of mind that has made the maturity transition its priority and focus. These are the meek who will inherit the earth because they’re not enticed by the love of the world or consumed with their own lusts or the pride of life.

Body Maturity
The highest level of spiritual maturity is that seen operating in community. It is also the most contested. Like other Kingdom paradoxes, community trust evolves on vulnerability. Yet, this is where it makes its greatest impact, as the community embraces tz-dakah.

The Hebrew word tz-dakah or “charitable righteousness” generously employs the diversity of gifts from within the community for the community good. As the enhanced community good takes hold, additional benefit spills over to its members. It’s not institutional, it’s relational. Then, within the relational, it’s not about ego, but service to enable others. It pivots on the call of a father’s heart described by Paul.
“For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ; yet you do not have many fathers.”
1 Cor 4:15

The corollary of the fallout of willful immaturity is readily evident within the power structures of the world’s system. Without God, leadership hopelessly digresses into what scripture refers to as the bondage of corruption. The “blessings” come when the obstacles of division become irrelevant and people enter into the God-centered community dynamic intended by God: the enabling others.

Just as there are levels to the sowing of division, so there are levels to responding to it. It begins with Paul’s instructions to the Romans, to being wary and avoiding the perpetrators who undermine and create discord and confusion; to the example of Paul confronting and cursing Elymas the sorcerer in Acts 13; to the highest level, in which Jesus yielded himself to his betrayers after Gethsemane.

As the community dynamic takes root, willful immaturity will be transformed, as the poor in spirit will no longer be subject to soulish delusions; those who mourn will be healed of their woundedness; the meek will have no need to force issues; those who hunger and thirst after righteousness will not be subject to over-spiritualizing; the merciful will release their pent-up anger and become genuine in their gift; the pure in heart will no longer be impulsive; the peacemakers will have no need to manipulate; and the persecuted will rejoice as their frustrated priorities no longer are tied to the world’s system.

Maturity of Leadership
The time following Gethsemane was replete with spiritual static reflecting a fall-out of division and betrayal at a level that impacted everyone within its sphere. Despite his time with Jesus and high calling, Peter was seduced by this spiritual static, as he blindly stumbled and denied the Lord three times.

Afterward, in that unique setting following Jesus rising from the dead and before He ascended, He had returned to put some things in order among His leaders. The shame and brokenness on top of Peter’s grief must have been beyond description. Peter and six of the disciples had gone fishing, but had caught nothing. From the shore, Jesus, who they hadn’t yet recognized, told them to throw their nets over the right side of the boat and they’d find a catch. They did and the net was so full they were almost unable to haul it in. At that point, John realized it was Jesus.

Then, after Jesus had eaten with this group to whom He was closest, He turned His attention to restoring Peter. Prompting Peter’s love for Him, Jesus gave Peter a sequence of marching orders that went from tending His lambs, to shepherding His sheep, to tending His sheep and then to following His pathway.

Then with John following them, Peter broached the source of his stumbling when he asked Jesus “what about him (John)?” Jesus then removed Peter’s competitive stumbling block by simply telling him not to worry about John, it was not his concern. His focus was to tend and shepherd Jesus’ followers, as he followed the pathway, beyond self, that Jesus had just traversed. The issue was one of spiritual maturity.

Jesus’ moving restoration of Peter to the place of being the rock on which He would build His church conformed to the priority and focus He gave His core group in Matthew 28: to disciple nations, teaching them to do all He had shown them.

Spiritual leadership demands trust and maturity. It is the trust and maturity no longer blinded by the ambitions of men, or of being subject to the impact of the betrayals and division propagated by the misguided and willful. Trust and maturity are keys to unlocking the Kingdom paradoxes. When this maturity operates within community, it will be the relevance, demonstrated as a people that the world seeks to see in their quest for the reality of God.


Morris Ruddick has been a forerunner and spokesman for the call of God in the marketplace. He is author of “The Joseph-Daniel Calling;” “Gods Economy, Israel and the Nations;” “The Heart of a King;” “Something More;” and “Righteous Power in a Corrupt World” which address the mobilization of business and governmental leaders called to impact their communities with God’s blessings. They are available from Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com and other popular outlets.

Mr. Ruddick is also the founder of the Global Equippers Entrepreneurial Program, which imparts hope and equips economic community builders where God’s light is dim in both the Western and non-Western world. To schedule a speaking engagement, sponsor a workshop, make a donation or to get more information on how you can help, contact Global Initiatives at 303.741.9000.

2011 Copyright Morris Ruddick – response@strategic-initiatives.org

Reproduction is prohibited unless permission is given by a SIGN advisor.  Since 1996, the Strategic Intercession Global Network (SIGN) has mobilized prophetic intercessors committed to targeting strategic-level issues impacting the Body on a global basis.  For previous posts or more information on SIGN, check:  http://www.strategicintercession.org

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