S (Scripture): Matthew 10:34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household.”
O (Observation): Jesus holds nothing back. One way he addresses the fear or trepidations of those who will follow him is to give them the worst-case scenario: if you follow me, division will come.
Jesus knows that fear debilitates. So he addresses their fears up front: follow me and that which you hold most dear (familial relations) could very well be disrupted or even destroyed. This is the cost of being a disciple.
A (Application): Odd, isn’t it, that peacemaking is often met with violence. Jesus doesn’t sugar-coat things. Jesus wants peace, but he knows that the outcome of seeking peace is violence. Not that Jesus wants violence…Jesus simply acknowledges that with peacemaking comes a shift in one’s identity. And people are willing to use any means (including violence) to hold onto their identity (like family relations, or political party, or religious zeal…)
When I ask people to be part of the life of our local congregation, I get ready for a little resistance. But I also know I’m doing folks a disservice if I tell them that their gifts are not needed in our congregational life – indeed their gifts ARE needed.
The Good News is shared here, and that results in people doing strange things: giving 10% of their income to the Lord (not just to this congregation, but to any charitable group), spending time using their gifts and talents inside or outside of the church, engaging in relationships for spiritual maturity, praying, worshipping).
I’ve certainly encountered resistance in developing a peaceful relationship with our Muslim neighbors here in Murfreesboro. Interesting…how long-held, xenophobic ideals can bring a negative attitude towards Christian-Muslim relations. Feeling a little bit of the sword that Christ promised here, but then, I guess that is to be expected.
What sword has come into your midst? Towards what has the Gospel called you to action?
P (Prayer): Lord, keep encouraging us toward Gospel-truths even in the midst of division. Amen.