Luke 12:49-51 "I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it were already kindled! 12.50 I have a baptism to be baptized with; and how I am constrained until it is accomplished! 12.51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division;

The word for today is loyalty, it is a synonym for faith, and sometimes it is important to use loyalty in texts in place of faith, and here’s why – we often think of faith as something that we do, as in, we believe – but you can’t do loyal, either you are or you’re not – and faith is not so much what you do, but how you are – a reflection of the change that God has worked through the word, making you a new creation, creating in you a clean heart, and renewing a right spirit within you. Loyalty answers the question – will you continue in this new creation that God has worked in you – or will you turn aside to go some other way. Its always been a simple question – does God really come first in your life?

And that brings us to our text, and the rather startling words, that Jesus came to cast fire upon the earth – fire, like our picture of hell – fire, like that which fell on Sodom and Gomorrah – fire, that tests the substance and purifies that which endures, for gold and silver are refined with fire, fire burns off the impurities. Fire tests, and tries – but this is not because God does not know, God knows, however we don’t know – and we do need to be refined.

So how are we tested, as with fire? Through our families and friends we are tested. And the test is simple – who comes first, what is most important? Family, Friends, Possessions, Health Wealth, Power, Beauty, Fame, whatever it is that we value – or is the most important thing God and the salvation which has come to us in Jesus Christ.

Peace on earth? The simple answer is, NO! That’s because everyone wants us to choose sides, if you love me, if our friendship means anything, choose sides – do I come first or not?

Peace on earth – where does it come from? It does not come apart from Christ – the answer is not to compromise our faith, or our commitment to Christ – the answer is to bring others into Christ – then, and only then is there peace that lasts – for it is a peace the forgives our sins reconciles us to God, and reconciles us to one another.