Friday, October 12, 2018

Division, Not Peace

Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division” (Luke 12:51).

Jesus Christ brought with Him a kind of unity and community the world had never known. We are to be as committed to the union and communion of the church as is Jesus Himself (John 17:21). Yet, Jesus exercised the most divisive ministry in the history of the world.

He said, “From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three” (Luke 12:52). Jesus was not advocating deliberate divisiveness, but He was predicting what would happen. If we are passionately committed to Jesus Christ, those who are less committed will be offended, and those who are indifferent will be uncomfortable with our commitment to Him. Jesus does not invite neutrality. Our loyalty to Him will cause a certain amount of strife and division, even when we try to prevent it.

In seminary, the faculty would daily drill into us the importance of unity and peace in the church. A pastor should never be divisive, we were told. Sadly, there was not an equal amount of emphasis put on the purity of the church. It is easy to keep the peace of the church if we compromise her purity.

We must be careful because God speaks harshly against a contentious spirit, an argumentative style that needlessly provokes strife among the people of God. Jesus was murdered because His teaching and His claims brought division. Jesus Himself was anything but a contentious and harsh person; and yet division followed Him because He was quietly committed to the holiness of God. We are called to a ministry of peace and reconciliation, but there is a certain inevitability to the strife that comes in the wake of true Christian commitment.

As you look at the church in America today, what kinds of divisions do you see taking place? Critical issues like inerrancy, abortion, and the ordination of homosexuals have polarized the body. Recognize your need to take a stand and what it will cost you if you do. Pray today for guidance and strength to take effective action for Christ regarding at least one of these issues.