Division

Luke 12:49-53
49 “I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! 50 I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five 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 her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” 

One of the aspects of the human condition of which we are painfully aware are the things that divide us. It would be wonderful if we all lived in a place where there was always total agreement about everything and we held hands and sang songs of joy and love everyday. The idea reminds me of the Coke commercial from the 1970s where hundreds of people of all makes and sizes stood in a long line that stretched around the globe and sang in perfect harmony a song about Coke and peace. It was a stupid commercial but I guess it did its job because I can still remember that song!

Jesus' words to His disciples in our reading for today speaks of something completely opposite of that idyllic picture. He shares the grim reality of the power of His message not to bring unity and harmony but division and strife. Now don't get me wrong. The Gospel does indeed bring peace, but because of our sin, it is also a message that can bring struggle. Jesus warns us that everyone is not going to embrace His message with open arms.

I can only assume that most of us struggle with this concept. Christianity is about salvation and grace. Jesus came to surrender His very life for us. But that surrender happened in the most violent was one can imagine. That historical event alone should help us see the veracity of His words in this passage. His Kingdom comes through fire and fire can either destroy or it can purify. As we meditate our way through a passage such as this we have to keep our hearts locked onto the perfection of God's plan instead of the stubborn refusal of some to hear the message. When division comes because of the Gospel, we allow these words of warning to help us understand that Jesus knew full well that His path would lead to both healing and suffering. The Kingdom of God is a dichotomy.

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