20 Friday Jun 2014
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
“‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.
Whoa. That is some pretty inflammatory language Jesus is using here. Did not come to bring peace? A sword? Enemies?
What on earth could Jesus be talking about?
First, we need to understand who He’s talking to. Jesus is giving instruction to the twelve disciples as He sends them out, specifically to the Jews, as His witnesses to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases and drive out demons.
But before they head out, they need to understand His message, and what they’ll be up against. Many, even the disciples, were under the impression that when the Messiah came He would set up His kingdom on earth and reign over all, bringing peace, ending famine and wars.
But Jesus makes it clear that is not His mission. Not yet, anyway.
As they went, they were to proclaim this message: the kingdom of heaven is near. The Messiah has come.
And He came to be the fulfillment of the law.
The law showed us we were sinners, and sin requires a payment of death. Jesus came to die in our place to pay for our sins. He came to make truth known, even as He Himself is truth. But not everyone wants to hear that they’re a sinner. And of those who know they’re a sinner, not everyone wants to be saved from it.
Jesus references the words of the prophet Micah in Micah 7:6. Micah lamented about the terrible times in which he lived when sin was rampant, and there were few who held onto faith and righteousness. And many of those who did found that their sons or daughters or other family members fell into the other camp—the one that reveled in immorality–and that caused strife, to say the least.
Centuries later, the disciples would find that, again, there would be relatively few who would choose faith and righteousness, even among the ancient sons and daughters of God. Few who would choose to align themselves with the truth—Jesus Christ. The disciples themselves would be among the few who stood in a world full of people who would rather deny the Christ and live in their own sinfulness. Even then the disciples were unaware that there was one among them, a friend, a fellow servant, who would choose sin over Christ.
And now, centuries later, the story is the same. Sin is rampant and there are few in this world who acknowledge their sin and put their faith in Christ. And even among those who call themselves Christians, there are fewer still who are willing to submit their whole lives to Him, leave the world behind, take up their crosses daily and live upright lives before their God.
And for those who do, for those who know that truth triumphs over sin and evil and destruction and death, for those who desire to live in that truth, we will, sooner or later, be called on to make a choice.
Someone we love, a close friend, a fellow servant, someone in our own family, someone who doesn’t adhere to the truth, will want to sin and drag us along with them. They won’t understand why we won’t do this or allow that. And a son will be against his father, a daughter against her mother, a fellow servant against another.
And a battle will ensue. This is the metaphoric sword Jesus speaks of.
The battle could get bloody. Sharp words may well be thrown our way. Wounds will be inflicted. Relationships could die. We could feel as though our heart is being ripped clean out of our chest. And all the while we’ll need to keep loving them and praying for them.
The inner struggle will be to not to let our flesh take over, to not retaliate with harsh words of our own, but to keep praying, remembering we don’t battle against flesh and blood but against an enemy we cannot see.
Prayer is the real battleground, and whether or not we choose to remain in prayer is where the battle will be won or lost.
Through it all we might have an inkling of the pain Christ suffered on the cross.
Are we willing to risk it all for Him? Is His cause our cause?
It’s at this moment when the foundation of our faith will be revealed. Is it sure? Do we stand on the Rock which does not move, is not shaken and does not compromise? Is our love for Him real?
Or will we falter? Will we choose sin over truth? Now is the time choose, not when we’re in the heat of battle and the enemy is coming at us full force. Put on the spiritual armor and don’t take it off.
Satan comes to kill, steal and destroy. He will get at us any way he can, even through family members. Especially through family members. He will come and whisper “It’s just a little sin. Just a little compromise won’t hurt. And you love them, right? You don’t want them angry with you.”
If we listen and give in, before we know it we’re far from God, and so is the one we love.
Love them enough not to compromise. This is not a battle for mere ground or castles or other earthly kingdoms. This is a battle for hearts and eternities.
And love Christ more. He saved us and He wants to save the other person in our lives whose ways are at odds with His, whose heart is far from Him and whose eternity will be a bitter one unless they have a lighthouse to show them the way.
Better than keeping a false, temporary peace, be a light shining the truth of God, so they can find their way to Him and experience real, lasting, eternal peace.
One day you may see a glimmer of hope. You’re gaining ground. Hearts are softening. Christ is winning.
“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9