Scripture: Luke 12:49-59
Key verse: (51) “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!”
Reflection: This is one of my least favorite verses in scripture yet there is a truth in it that can’t be denied. My mother was right. There are three things you should never talk about – money, politics or religion!
I was raised in the church by two committed Christian parents. If the doors were open, I was there. I went to Sunday school, got confirmed at age 12, sang in the Youth Choir and attended Youth group. In my family the only time you could miss church was if you were sick, really sick. And, yet, I fell away from all that I had been taught and believed in the last year of high school and in college. I experienced the church as judgmental and out of touch with the real issues in the world. There was a culture clash going on in America at that time and I wanted to break free from anything traditional. So, I rebelled. But, within a few years, when I was doing all of the things I had dreamed of doing, life felt empty. About that same time, I was working on a series of one act plays. Many of the actors I was working with were Christians and they invited me to their church. I resisted at first, but something within me urged me to go. It was during that service that all of the power of the church community and God, as I had remembered it as a child, came roaring back to me. That day, I experienced a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the form of love, forgiveness and acceptance. After that I never turned back and I began attending a nearby Presbyterian church. I could go on and on about what God did with me after that, but here’s my point: when I began to share what I was learning about faith and Jesus as an adult, the first people I alienated were my family members. Some of this happened because of my own arrogance and misdirected zeal, but some of my faith sharing made my family uncomfortable. They thought I was over-doing it, especially when I answered a call to pastoral ministry – a call that they had unwittingly nurtured by bringing me up in the church! We had many lively conversations that weren’t always peaceful. Following Jesus created division, especially in my extended family who had mainly negative images of Christians and Christianity.
When we follow Jesus and try our best to live up to the pattern of life that is outlined in scripture, we will inevitably upset someone. Followers of Jesus often make choices that don’t make any sense from the world’s point of view and this can create division. Jesus wants us to know that there are consequences when we live out our faith, so don’t be surprised when division happens. Just make sure you don’t create division because of your own arrogance and pride. We follow a Savior who will lead us into challenging situations where we will have opportunities to show humility and love. And, who knows what power that might have to change another person’s life.
Prayer: Gracious God, help us to follow you in all humility even when divisions happens and conflict arises because of our faith in Jesus. Give us courage to do justice and love mercy, as we seek to walk humbly with you. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
Author: Deborah Conner
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].