Luke 12:49–56; John 17:20–26 (read online ⧉)
Jesus’ words are definitely uncomfortable. They are intended to be. The image of warm cuddly Jesus is great in pictures and in our hearts. It also true. However, there is a hardness to Jesus that we try to ignore, for when we see it we often become afraid.
It is here in these words that some of our fears seem to be right there. Separation from family is a big one. In a culture where family was the primary social and survival network, dividing from one’s family was often a death sentence.
If you were to take Jesus’ words and put them in someone else’s mouth (for the sake of argument, President Trump), there would be many people who would immediately agree that this sounds like Trump. Trump, whether by his own actions and words or by the overwhelming dislike toward him by many seems to have fulfilled this.
Before you think that this is supporting or defending Trump, it is neither. It is actually a mirror. Our society, and in many ways the whole world, is divided just as these words of Jesus go.
If we view others as being part of the family of God (whether in our biological family, church family, city, state, country, continent, the world), these words had better be distressing! We are divided from our brothers and sisters in Christ, because of skin color, language, nationality. Not much of “be as one” as we ought to be.
In many respects, this is what makes faithful Christians dangerous to many powers. Loyalties that supersede the state is bad. Authoritarian countries have been known to keep or gather familial “hostages” to assure the return of scientists, teachers, politicians, athletes, and business leaders. Faithful Christianity is more dangerous insofar as keeping things within the state, yet strong ties outside of the state.
It’s likely you thought of one of those authoritarian nations. It’s not just authoritarian nations. We can look at the United States and see the tensions that go along with Christianity. Certain Christians are challenging the authority of the government around churches being closed for health safety. Many of these same Christians challenge the Patriotism and even the faith of those who question the government or the country in other circumstances.
This is not to point at a side, nor think that another side doesn’t have as bad or worse issues regarding faith, patriotism, and country.
Division under the direction and love of Jesus Christ isn’t bad. In fact, it is scriptural. However, within the division, there still needs to be unity of heart. This unity of heart is toward fellow members of the Body of Christ. We love them because God loves them.
When we question whether another’s motives are Christian, we first need to look in the mirror to make sure we are being Christian.
Remember, the love of each other (unity) is how the world knows that Jesus is in us and that Jesus was sent by the Trinity to the world. Our love for each other, especially in these times, is how the world can see that Jesus is love.
God, you are love. As your children, we are to be love. Help us to be strong in love. Amen.
1) Arguing well and respectfully is a lost skill. Why do you think such a vital skill to a democracy, republic, and faith communities has been so deeply lost?
2) Why does arguing often devolve into issues of authority and power?