Fire and division #LukeActs2014

“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:49-53, NIV)

In my last post, I wrote about unity in the midst of adversity. So, of course, when I open my Bible to continue a year-long journey through Luke-Acts, Jesus is talking about fire, division, and conflict.

Thanks a lot, Jesus.

Being temperamentally averse to conflict, I am greatly challenged when I come across passages such as this. But I think we are wrong if we read this as in some way a call to seek out conflict or to relish in it.

As I read the entire chapter, Jesus is saying that standing up for him and following his commands will result in us being put into situations of conflict. We are warned about falling prey to hypocrisy (vv. 1-2) and rejection of Christ (v.8) under persecution or pressure (vv. 11-12). We are warned not to be tempted by the pursuit of earthly riches and security (vv. 13-34). We are warned not flag in keeping the Lord’s commands as we await the return of Christ (vv. 35-48).

In these various ways, we will be pulled by others. For instance, we will be urged not to be “too religious” or to take God too seriously. And when we do, we will fall into conflict with family and loved ones because of our loyalty to Christ.

The irony for me is that both sides on our denomination’s conflict probably appeal to this passage for comfort. That may make me read the final verses of the chapter in a way that seems wrong to others:

As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled on the way, or your adversary may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.” (Luke 12: 58-59, NIV)

Conflict is inevitable. We will have adversaries in the life of this world and the life of the church. Jesus the judge is coming, perhaps today. How hard are we trying to be reconciled before Jesus Christ returns? It is better that we be reconciled than we run the risk of Jesus turning to us and saying, “Off to prison with you.”

Do we hear this? How do we do it?

4 thoughts on “Fire and division #LukeActs2014

  1. Was there ever a time when Jesus felt the need to separate persons from His House?
    Is any example given by God himself that some activities and practices defile the House of God and are not to be tolerated?
    What was going on in that “den of thieves”?
     Jeremiah 7 teaches there was more than money being thieved in the temple.
    Who did Paul excommunicate and why?

    Fire is used to create as well as destroy.

  2. Paul also says, “Indeed, there have to be factions among you, for only so will it become clear who among you are genuine.” [1 Corinthians 11:19]

    1. The Second Helvetic Confession testifies,
      “For thus it
      pleases God to use the dissensions that arise in the Church
      to the glory of his name, to illustrate the truth, and in order
      that those who are in the right might be manifest.”

      The right are made manifest and the wrong are made fools.

      The Second Helvetic Confession begins with the following:

      CANONICAL SCRIPTURE. We believe and confess the canonical Scriptures of the holy prophets and apostles of both Testaments to be the true Word of God, and to have sufficient authority of themselves, not of men. For God himself spoke to the fathers, prophets, apostles, and still speaks to us through the Holy Scriptures.

      And in this Holy Scripture, the universal Church of Christ has the most complete exposition of all that pertains to a saving faith, and also to the framing of a life acceptable to God; and in this respect it is expressly commanded by God that nothing be either added to or taken from the same.

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