LUKE 12:49-53: “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished. Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other! From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against—or two in favor and three against. ‘Father will be divided against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’ ” NLT
OBSERVATION: Did Jesus come to bring peace or division? Did He come to unite mankind or divide it? Is tolerance a Biblical principle or is it antithetical to the Gospel? To think that Jesus came to bring peace to the world is a gross misunderstanding of the Scriptures.
When one suggests that Jesus came to bring division they are accused of being unChristian. Was it not Jesus who told us to love our enemies and to pray for those who despitefully use us? Was it not Jesus who gave us the golden rule? How are we to reconcile these teachings of Jesus with the verses in Luke 12:49-53?
Jesus did not say that he came to incite people against each other. Rather, Jesus said He came to set the world on fire. Jesus came to bring light into darkness, righteousness into sin, wholeness into brokenness. It would seem that the world would line up to receive these benefits. However, this is not the case.
- “There is no judgment against anyone who believes in him. But anyone who does not believe in him has already been judged for not believing in God’s one and only Son. And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” John 3:18-21 NLT
When you turn a light on in a room, the light does not blend with the darkness, it dispels it. Light exposes, reveals, and separates. Someone who has a very dirty room that they do not want to clean does not want you to open the blinds. Jesus proclaimed that when He came into the world as God’s light the majority of people loved the darkness more than the light. Jesus’ very presence was an affront to the status quo and the darkness of the age.
Jesus is addressing true discipleship. If we are going to follow Jesus, if we are going to pick up our cross, if we are going to stand for the light of truth, this will naturally bring a division. Our Heavenly Father did not set out to divide families when He sent His only begotten Son into the world. Our Heavenly Father set out to save mankind. Yet, He knew that this would ultimately bring both a division and the cross.
For a while, in America, it was hip to be “Born Again.” Movie stars proclaimed their faith in Christ and a prosperity gospel swept the land. To be a Christian was seen as the way to have it all. You could walk with God and enjoy all the comforts of this life. If you were truly a child of the King – then why not live like a king! In the midst of all of this, the church’s testimony began to lose its edge. The truth was sacrificed for comfort and acceptance. Mega-churches were formed around pop-psychology rather than sound Biblical teaching. The sword that divides became a butter knife.
Today, things are changing. If you truly stand up for the truth of the Scriptures you will experience the sword of division. In recent days both my wife and I have been unfriended by many people on Facebook, even by family members. Why? Simply for standing up for righteousness in a fallen world. If you proclaim the words of Jesus you are labeled a fanatic and a hate monger. To say that something is sin today is viewed as the height of intolerance. And, politicians and pundits quote Scripture to justify their condemnation.
Jesus’ words are coming full circle. If we are going to shine as lights in this age of darkness we too will experience the sword of division. It is not because we are looking to offend people. It is simply that light, God’s truth, either leads to eternal life or it offends. There is no middle ground. Jesus, in His letter to the church of Laodecia, makes this very clear.
- “I know all the things you do, that you are neither hot nor cold. I wish that you were one or the other! But since you are like lukewarm water, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth! You say, ‘I am rich. I have everything I want. I don’t need a thing!’ And you don’t realize that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. So I advise you to buy gold from me—gold that has been purified by fire. Then you will be rich. Also, buy white garments from me so you will not be shamed by your nakedness, and ointment for your eyes so you will be able to see. I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference.” Revelation 3:15-19 NLT
I love my family and my friends. I love them enough to tell them the truth no matter what the cost. Is it love to see someone race toward destruction and remain quiet simply because you do not want to offend them? Is our acceptance more important than their eternal salvation? If Jesus was crucified for the truth why do we think that we will be invited on the Oprah Winfrey show for proclaiming it? There is a cost to discipleship. There is a cost to being a light in a world that loves darkness. Am I willing to pay this cost?
Lord, my human nature is to settle. I would rather get along than take a stand. I would rather be liked than misunderstood. However, I don’t want to live for myself. I want to live for you. Grant me the grace and the courage to live a life of courageous faith. May I be ready to give an answer to everyone who questions the hope that is within me. And, may I always, like Christ, speak the truth in sincere love, compassion, and respect – no matter what the cost!
In Jesus Name!