DIVISION CAUSED BY SELFISHNESS
One day, however, the nation was divided into two kingdoms, into the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. Jeroboam became the king of the northern nation, and Rehoboam, the king of the southern nation. After this division was formed, idolatry came in. Jeroboam not only caused division; he also set up idols in Bethel and in Dan (1 Kings 12:29). Having made two calves of gold, Jeroboam said to the people, "It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt" (v. 28). The source of these idols was Jeroboam’s selfish ambition. Jeroboam set up another center of worship because he feared the loss of his kingdom. First Kings 12:26 and 27 say, "And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: if this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah." To prevent this from happening and to preserve his kingdom, Jeroboam set up idols in a rival center of worship. This clearly indicates that the origin of these idols was his ambition.
We need to apply this principle to the situation among Christians today. The divisions in Christianity are caused by selfishness and ambition. Because certain ones are ambitious to have their own empire, they neglect God’s choice. Their ambition is to have a kingdom to satisfy their own selfish desire. In the Old Testament God’s choice was a unique place: Mount Zion in Jerusalem. In this place the temple with the Holy of Holies as the oracle was built. Nevertheless, Jeroboam, an ambitious, selfish, and self-seeking man, set up another center of worship. Some may defend his action by pointing out that he did not establish a center for worldly entertainment, but a place for the worship of God. However, this worship center was actually a cover-up for Jeroboam’s ambition. The same is true today. Because of their selfishness and ambition, many Christian leaders have set up centers of worship. Apparently, these centers are established for the worship of God. Actually, they are set up to fulfill a man’s ambition to have an empire. Hence, in a very real sense, the founders of many Christian groups are today’s Jeroboams. The centers of worship set up by these present-day Jeroboams are actually centers of ambition. For this reason, "idols" can be found in those places.
According to the principle in 1 Kings 12:26-30, in many Christian groups there are "idols" set up to attract people and to hold them. These "idols" keep people from God. Following the example of Aaron at Mount Sinai, Jeroboam made two golden calves and told the people that they were the God who brought them out of Egypt. We may wonder why the children of Israel could be so blind as to accept these idols as God. Because we view the situation from afar, we can see it clearly. However, if we had been there, we probably would have followed Jeroboam and would have been one with him.
We need to be clear about the situation in Christianity today. If we are under the shining of the heavenly light, we shall realize that in so many Christian groups "idols" have been set up in place of God. These "idols" attract people into those groups and then keep them there.
(The Genuine Ground of Oneness, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)