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Wednesday, July 17, 2019

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Did the Prince of Peace really say he came to bring division?

Did the Prince of Peace really say he came to bring division?

In chapter 12 of Luke’s gospel, Jesus tells us two strange things: First, he wants to set the world on fire. Secondly, he came to bring division not peace in our world. It seems out of character that the Prince of Peace is declaring that he has come to bring division.

Many people view religion as something that brings comfort – a place of refuge and consolation when times are difficult. Yet Jesus is telling us that our faith is also a place of confrontation. That fire he came to bring can often be used to purify.

Jesus has come, not only to bring peace, but to purge the world of evil.

I hope that none of you are still under the illusion that we are living in a society that is based upon Christian values. Our choices are between following the teaching of Jesus or the teachings of our society. Those choices often divide us from one another.

It is true that at times our society’s values may be the same as our Christian values. Unfortunately, there are many instances where clashes exist between society’s values, and our Christian values. The following are some examples of positions accepted by our society:

* Life is not sacred; abortion is fine and should be encouraged in many cases although many parents now spend thousands of dollars to adopt a child from another country.

* War is the best means for settling disputes. Bomb the hell out of people if they are a threat to our interest. If innocent people die, too bad.

* People who look different from us should not get the same respect as those who look the same as we do.

* The marriage commitment is not really a life long commitment. It’s a temporary agreement made with the hope that it will work. If it doesn’t, just open the door and walk out.

* Sexual self control is “old fashion” or stupid. Do what you want, when you want, with whom you want – just don’t catch any nasty disease.

* Being civil, polite and respectful is for sissies. Use your anger to get what you want as the saying goes, “Go ahead and make my day.”

* Keep the poor in their place, which is at the bottom of the heap; riches are for the rich. Get as much as you can, and keep it all.

* If someone kills someone, capture them and then do the same to them. The right thing to do is to kill someone if they have killed someone so we can teach people not to kill.

* Our society will gladly take your life if you are getting too old or too hard to take care of. We can eliminate you before you die of natural causes. That’s very convenient for us.

These are just some positions held by many in our society. A major task is to become aware of these issues that are directly contrary to Jesus’ teachings. If we are not aware of what is really happening in our society, then we can remain part of the problem, instead of being part of the solutions.

When Jesus tells us that we will be divided from others, that kind of division is not to be avoided. None of us want to be divided from others, but we cannot give up our basic principles just to get along well with others. “Peace at any price” is not a real virtue.

We need to develop a strong Christian critical spirit. To criticize is not to destroy. It means knowing how to distinguish the true from the false, the good from the bad, in every concrete situation. True critics possess good judgment and good sense. When we lack a thoughtfully critical spirit, we end up conforming to the spirit of our age. Always stand up for what is right!