Thursday, October 23, 2014

“When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.”

“The messengers of Jesus will be hated to the end of time. They will be blamed for all the division which rend cities and homes. Jesus and his disciples will be condemned on all sides for undermining family life, and for leading the nation astray; they will be called crazy fanatics and disturbers of the peace. The disciples will be sorely tempted to desert their Lord. But the end is also near, and they must hold on and persevere until it comes. Only he will be blessed who remains loyal to Jesus and his word until the end.” ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, (The Cost of Discipleship)

Gospel Text: (LK 12:49-53)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“I have come to set the earth on fire,
and how I wish it were already blazing!
There is a baptism with which I must be baptized,
and how great is my anguish until it is accomplished!
Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth?
No, I tell you, but rather division.
From now on a household of five will be divided,
three against two and two against three;
a father will be divided against his son
and a son against his father,
a mother against her daughter
and a daughter against her mother,
a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”

Did I hear that right? Jesus, the Prince of Peace said, “"Do you think I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division." When it comes to Jesus, we often do have to make a choice and that choice may not be readily accepted by others. In fact, it may even cause secular segments of society to persecute us. When this happens and IT WILL HAPPEN remember these words:

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you and utter every kind of evil against you [falsely] because of me. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward will be great in heaven. Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you (MT 5:11-12).

When we choose to follow Jesus, there is no escaping the fact that discipleship, in many ways, is a radical choice. To turn the other cheek; To forgive seventy-seven times; To love our enemies; To love one another as He has loved us; To deny ourselves and carry our cross. Are not these radical demands? And often, they will put us in conflict with the ways of the world. And so there can be division. I am sure that in the time of the early church, people who chose Christ did indeed come into conflict with members of their own families. It was not an easy choice.

When you come right down to it, it shouldn't be an easy choice for us, either. To choose Christ has all kinds of implications for how we should live and work, and relate to the world. But even though Jesus uses this strong language, I don't believe He is advocating violence and destruction. Divisions can be reconciled and healed. Such is the "breadth and length and height and depth" of Christ's love for us and for all.

May we seek true peace which comes out of justice, and put ourselves at the disposal of the One "who is able to accomplish far more than all we ask or imagine."

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