“Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” Luke 12:51-53
We need to really re-evaluate our understanding of the Gospel of Christ if we are believing that it can be integrated nicely and neatly into the world without a hiccup of violent opposition.The message that Jesus preached is one that is loaded with infinite grace and love, but this doesn’t mean that the world accepts it with the same humility in which is was given.
This is not to say that the power of Christ in us is limited and cannot restore the broken relationships between ourselves and others. We find scripturally and historically that the faith in Jesus which leads to our adoption into the family of God is one that unites people in radical fashion beyond the relationship of mere acquaintances.
Scripturally, we see this happening with the first 3,000ish Christians on the scene after Jesus’ death and resurrection as recorded in the book of Acts.
“And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.” Acts 2:42-47
This is how the church began and this is generally how the body of believers have interacted throughout history. In fact, Christianity is the first and only religion that “promotes self-sacrificing community between and across genders, social classes and race.” (Pastor Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan, Author of “Reason for God“)
What we need to understand is that while Jesus and the Gospel that he has preached certainly have the power to redeem broken relationships between people, it is not the end-all purpose of his original coming. Christ came to pay our debt to sin and call people to himself to receive his gift of grace. The fallout and implications of such an action range from reconciliation of relationships, to the freedom from the bondage of addiction but they are not the sole purpose of Jesus’, or the Church’s existence.
So when we see evil prevail and suffering continue in our world today, it does not mean that Jesus’ purpose and time on earth was a failure, for he didn’t come to bring peace to the entire world. His message and salvation is for those who listen and respond, who in themselves will have peace in the knowledge of an eternal perspective of themselves and their position with God. Beyond that, however, Jesus says that his message and purpose will actually divide people.
How and why?
Accepting the Gospel requires a shift in allegiances which ultimately creates the division that Jesus is talking about. We all have our allegiances or loyalties which dictate the way we think and make our decisions. Where an unbeliever’s allegiance will be on self-preservation and comfort or family well-being, Christ calls us to an allegiance to him that trumps the self or any other loyalty we may have.
“Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:37
Imagine saying to your mother, father, best friend, girlfriend, “I’m sorry but you’re no longer my highest priority.” You can see how the difference in allegiance divides a house. The two different sides take stances that can’t coexist peacefully: the non believer will say, “I will do anything for my (insert allegiance), even at the cost of losing God.” The allegiance that Christ calls us to will say, “I will do anything for my God, even at the cost of losing my family. My friends. My fiance. My job. My house. My own well-being.” (read more on this drastic change in perspective that God calls us to here)
Is this the God you signed up with? The God whose worth surpasses that of any physical or emotional suffering that this world, in its wickedness and brokenness, can conjure up?
Be ready for division and opponents to the Gospel of Grace that you carry. Remember that this Message, when preached in its entirety, has a near perfect track record for killing its messengers– all of the apostles (with the exception of Judas Iscariot who committed suicide after his betrayal, and John who survived the sentenced execution of being boiled alive) and Jesus endured such division that it led to their death at the hands of their opponents.
I know this doesn’t scare you because I know that you have your hope set on the eternal prize, the crown of righteousness that waits for your at the finish line. All these 800 words to say this: if you are experiencing division, you’re doing something right.