Do you think that I came to provide peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division
Luke 12:35-59 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Be prepared, and keep your lamps lit. 36 You are also to be like people who are waiting for their master when he returns from the wedding feast, so that they may immediately open the door for him when he comes and knocks. 37 Blessed are those slaves whom the master will find on the alert when he comes; truly I say to you, that he will prepare himself to serve, and have them recline at the table, and he will come up and serve them. 38 Whether he comes in the second watch, or even in the third, and finds them so, blessed are those slaves.
39 “But be sure of this, that if the head of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have allowed his house to be broken into. 40 You too, be ready; because the Son of Man is coming at an hour that you do not think He will.”
41 Peter said, “Lord, are You telling this parable to us, or to everyone else as well?” 42 And the Lord said, “Who then is the faithful and sensible steward, whom his master will put in charge of his servants, to give them their rations at the proper time? 43 Blessed is that slave whom his master finds so doing when he comes. 44 Truly I say to you that he will put him in charge of all his possessions. 45 But if that slave says in his heart, ‘My master will take a long time to come,’ and he begins to beat the other slaves, both men and women, and to eat and drink and get drunk; 46 then the master of that slave will come on a day that he does not expect, and at an hour that he does not know, and will cut him in two, and assign him a place with the unbelievers. 47 And that slave who knew his master’s will and did not get ready or act in accordance with his will, will receive many blows, 48 but the one who did not know it, and committed acts deserving of a beating, will receive only a few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and to whom they entrusted much, of him they will ask all the more.
49 “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I came to provide peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; 52 for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
54 And He was also saying to the crowds, “Whenever you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, ‘A shower is coming,’ and so it turns out. 55 And whenever you feel a south wind blowing, you say, ‘It will be a hot day,’ and it turns out that way. 56 You hypocrites! You know how to analyze the appearance of the earth and the sky, but how is it that you do not know how to analyze this present time?
57 “And why do you not even judge by yourselves what is right? 58 For when you are going with your accuser to appear before the magistrate, on the way, make an effort to settle with him, so that he does not drag you before the judge, and the judge hand you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. 59 I tell you, you will not get out of there until you have paid up the very last lepton.”
In today’s text Jesus says: “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! Do you think that I came to provide peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be 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 daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” In Luke 6:27-31 Jesus says: “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either. Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. Treat others the same way you want them to treat you.” These two seem to be in opposition to each other, but in truth they are not. In Romans 12:9-21 Paul says: Love must be free of hypocrisy. Detest what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor, not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, persevering in tribulation, devoted to prayer, contributing to the needs of the saints, practicing hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse… Never repay evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all people. If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written: “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. “But if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. As believers, we are to be at peace with all people as far as it depends on us. Yet, it is what Paul says first that causes division. Our love must be without hypocrisy. We must detest evil and cling to what is good. The world calls us hypocrites when we hold fast to what God says; when we detest evil. They say that if we love, we should tolerate and embrace evil. In truth though to embrace evil when we know the consequences, would be hypocrisy. In Isaiah 5:20 God says: Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! If we love people, we would not want them to experience the consequences of sin.
The world says that Christian faith is intolerant and not inclusive. The truth is, there is nothing more inclusive that faith in Christ. It does not matter what nationality, ethnicity or race you are. There is no preference whether you are male or female, old or young, rich or poor. John 3:16 says: “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.” Everyone who believes is included. The division then is not an act of Christ or of Christians, but rather an act or a choice of those who do not believe. Of all the things that we are divided over in our society and culture, whether or not a person believes in Christ is the only one that has eternal consequences. In Mark 16:15-16 Jesus says: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. The one who has believed and has been baptized will be saved; but the one who has not believed will be condemned.” That is the division; the defining difference that Jesus came to bring.
In John 15:18-25 Jesus says: “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’” In John 14:15 Jesus says: “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” That too is the division that Christ brings. Some will love Him and do what He commands, while others will hate without cause, because He makes them aware of their sin.
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit, may my love truly be without hypocrisy. May I overcome evil with good, holding fast to what You commanded. May I be a bridge to span the divide that separates believers and unbelievers. May they know Your love, that You, so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life. Amen.