Pentecost 10 C Proper 15 Luke 12:49-56 August 18, 2019
We might not like to hear it but there is a price to pay for following Jesus. Jesus asks a question and then gives the answer to His question. "Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth?" Before anyone can answer He give the answer, "No, I tell you, but rather division!"
The Gospel reading for today contains some of Jesus' harshest words. He is warning His followers that there will be some really upsetting times when God's Kingdom comes to pass. Not everyone will accept the Good News of God's Kingdom and some will be upset by it. Jesus warns us that the coming of a new order will not bring peace but division and conflict. He is chewing out the crowd because they are not reading t he signs of the times.
Jesus says that He has come to bring division not peace. His words are harsh and uncompromising. They seem out of place for one who is known as the Prince of Peace. The peace of Jesus will be accompanied by the falling and the rising of many people. Many will be accepted and unfortunately many will be rejected.
From now on, in the age to come, the followers of Jesus will have to decide whether they will stand with Him or against Him. These divisions are very real. They will affect even the strong bond in the family. There is no guarantee that families will stay together. Folks, that's heavy. Jesus prophecy shakes the very foundation of the social order. You can imagine the chaos that will exist as the world is being transformed. It is being changed from the mess we have made of it to the way God wants it to be.
So, it is important that we look at the signs of our present time. Maybe more important than ever. "You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, why do you not know how to interpret the present time?"
The word for peace in Hebrew is "shalom". It is not just the absence of war, shalom means wholeness, well being and good health, as well as what we think of as peace. All those meanings are present in shalom. This is God's peace which passes our understanding. In other words, we don't get it. Shalom is a truer, deeper peace. This is not something new. It has been the promise of God's peace and the message that Jesus preached all along.
Jesus longs to bring a deeper health and wholeness to our world and the cost of that process will be division. The greater peace will come but we will have to give up our lesser peace. The peace of God brings an end to the false peace that we live with now, and as Jesus says, it might even pit family members against each other.
So, we have to make some decisions. We decide between our Lesser peace or the lord's Greater peace. Living into the new life in Jesus which is promised in our baptism can and will change our behavior and it will change our attitude over time--if you take it seriously.
Keeping the promises we made in our baptism should change our lives. But we live with a tension. We avoid many issues because we want to avoid conflict and so we preserve a lesser peace.
Last week, at a clergy meeting, the Northwest Region, a new chaplain was named to the clergy.
Jesus longs to bring a deeper health and wholeness to our world and the cost of that process will be division. The greater peace will come at the cost of our lesser peace. We can have it God's way or we can try to have it our way. The peace of God brings an end to the false peace and, as Jesus says, might even pit family members against each other.
But all too often we hold on to our lesser peace as tightly as a security blanket. Rather than having the courage to speak the truth in love. We remain silent, we avoid an argument and we prevent the possibility of a real peace.
Jesus continually reached out to the outcast in his own society. Jesus upset the status quo and eventually was killed for rocking the boat and disturbing the status quo a little too much. Jesus did bring God's peace to the earth, a true and lasting peace, but the price is division. Throughout history, there are thousands of examples of people settling for a lesser peace when God was calling them to something more. The peace of God brings an end to the false peace that we hold on so tightly to.
What would it look like to speak out against a lesser peace in our family, our community, our church and our world? It will cause division. But if the Holy Spirit is peaking truth to your heart, the Spirit is leading you from a lesser peace to true and lasting peace.
The cost will be high, so high that most of us shrink back and become lesser men and women. We let coworkers steal from the company, friends cheat on their spouses, brothers fall deeper into drug use. We fail to stand with those being bullied, and with neighbors being denied human rights. We do all of this in the hope of keeping the peace and instead fall short of the deep peace Jesus wants for us, our families, our friends and our places of work. The real question is not why did Jesus teach that following him could be divisive, but why does our faith never disturb anyone? Is it because we never share it? In what ways are we holding back? How could we be bolder instead of remaining silent?
Do we really believe that God's peace would be better than the world as we have it now? Or are we so satisfied with doing things our way that we do not believe that the Lord Jesus Christ knows how to make it better? I am putting all my eggs in one basket, it say "Jesus is Lord."
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