Luke 12:51 "Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division;"
For some people, there is one reason why you go to church, simply, it gives you peace. And then along comes this text and all of a sudden they are uncomfortable. If Jesus came to bring fire and a sword, perhaps there is a more friendly Savior. For if we as individuals, want peace, then isnít it even more so, for families? We certainly donít want more fighting! Or do we?
Lets take a closer look at the text. Earlier, Jesus had told the people, Donít worry, look how God cares for the birds of the air and the flowers of the field Ė arenít you more important that they? Donít worry about this worlds treasure, but be rich toward God, for it its Godís will to give you the kingdom. And while over and over again, Jesus speaks of Godís love, grace, and mercy, and how God will provide all. He does indicate that while it is all a free gift, God does have certain expectations, and chief among those is that we be ready, at all times.
So, while God is gracious and merciful, he is also particular. And that causes us some difficulty. It would not be so hard if we only had to be ready some of the time, so that once a week, we would prepare ourselves should God come Ė we could handle that, and we could feel good about how we got ready for church, after all it was a lot of work! But God says thatís not enough, God want more than a portion of our life, God wants it all, 100%! And thatís the problem. We could let God come first, if it was only sometimes, but all the time, in all we do?
And that is how it is that Jesus comes to create division. Either you are all for Jesus, or you are against Jesus. No gray areas, no fudge factor, no wiggle room. And that my friends divides not only people, but families. For these days families work by means of compromise, each gives a little for the sake of peace with all. We are not inclined to tolerate anyone who says, its my way, or no way! But that is exactly what God does, doesnít he?
Just are there are no compromises when it comes to the commandments, for it does not say, Thou shalt not steal, most of the time, or Thou shalt not bear false witness, but white lies are OK. So also, when it comes to faith, there is no room to believe in God and ______. For first among the commandments is this Ė Thou shalt have no other gods! Some people may have learned it Ė Thou shalt have no other gods before me, and by it they believe they can have other gods, just as long as God is chief among them. Unfortunately that is not what it means, for when it says, before me, it means, before my face, that is, anywhere where God can see them, and God can see everything.
And that is the hard thing, that God should be so particular, that God does not accept diversity, that God does not compromise. Why, you would think that God had the only way to heaven Ė and Ė he does! And we need to understand this, because we live in families, and people keep saying, canít you give a little, for the sake of peace? While it seems reasonable and right so to compromise, it is contrary to what God says, and that is how we are to take Jesus words about bringing fire and a sword and how he will divide families. If God says no compromises. If God says to be ready at all times. If God says, I am particular, and want 100% faith, 100% of the time. And if we have families we mixed faith and mixed commitment, then there will be division. Its not easy, its not nice, and we wish we didnít have to choose. We wish there was something we could do for those in our family who would say, Isnít there some way where we can worship together?
Is there a way that those of mixed faiths can worship together? Not really, not if some follow the faith of the Bible, and believe the claims of the God who demands that he be held as God alone, worshiped alone, and who makes no room for competing claims. Let me say it plainly, our faith is exclusive! And we have no reason to apologize for it or feel uncomfortable about it. Our faith is exclusive, not because we are holier than others, or better than others. Our faith is exclusive not because we think weíre the only ones who will be in heaven. Rather Ė Our faith is exclusive, because this is the kind of faith that God demands. There is only 1 way to heaven, it is not my way, or your way Ė it is Godís way, or No way.
And from those choices the answer should be easy! But the best part is that although God is exclusive, and particular when it comes to faith and worship. The Good News is that God is also inclusive, for God would have all saved and come to the knowledge of the truth.