Tuesday, January 17, 2012

He Came to Divide

The Residence in Munich, Germany the home of the royal
          When we think of our Lord Jesus Christ, we often picture Him as a man of peace.  In fact, many people have this concept of the Lord who are not believers.  They see Him as a great teacher, prophet, or a "Ghandi" like figure spreading kind words and thoughts.  However, as I was reading the Bible today, I stopped on a passage in Matthew chapter 10 where Jesus spent time teaching His disciples before sending them out to minister.
     Throughout the chapter, the Lord told His disciples that they would be persecuted even as He had been.  People would not accept the message they were sent to tell, but they were told not to fear for God valued them more than the sparrows and knew even the number of hairs on their head.  Then, he announced that He had not come to bring peace.  Matthew 10: 34-36 reads:  "Do not think that I have come to bring peace, but a sword.  For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.  And a person's enemies will be those of his own household."  These words must have sounded strange to His disciples as they do to our ears.  Some of these men may have thought that the Lord would usher in political peace and take over the government from the Roman conquerors, but Jesus was going deeper than that.
     In this passage, our Lord wanted His disciples to know that following Him would bring division even in families.  One is called out and follows Christ while another does not believe in Him.  Certainly when we become a Christian, Christ does give us peace of heart.  He breaks forever the chains of sin and death, but He also changes us .  Our old habits and lifestyles no longer fit, and we feel uncomfortable in some of the places we used to go.  Family and friends are often the first to notice this change.  It is like wearing a new perfume when everyone is accustomed to the one we had been wearing for years.   Of course, when others notice the change in our life, it gives us the opportunity to share the Gospel with them.  In some cases, however, it means that old friends may decide they do not want to be around us any longer.  They are uncomfortable in the presence of the Holy Spirit living within us.  I have witnessed this in my own life.
     Truly there is a cost to following Christ which is pointed out in this passage.  In earlier verses 12-13, Jesus tells us:  "So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven."  This is a hard saying if we value friendships, family and worldly pleasures over faithfulness to God.
     In His coming, Jesus came to divide the sheep from the goats.  He uses the Sword of the Word in order to divide out those who belong to Him.  Over and over again in the scripture, we hear the Lord say, "He who has ears, let him hear" (Matthew 11:15).  This is a call to those who by the power of God's Spirit have been regenerated and can now hear the call of Christ.  Unfortunately, not all our friends or even our family members have "ears" to hear.  Certainly, we should continue to pray for them and their salvation daily.  Yet, in the end, there may be some who can never open their heart to Christ.
     A modern day example of a Christian who is making an impact is Tim Tebow.  As a professional football player, he has a platform to share the faith he holds so dear, and what do we see?  There is widespread division in the reaction to his prayers during a game.  Some are offended and others are blessed.  Whenever we hold fast and stand firm in our faith, we will face opposition.  The Apostle Peter, in writing about Jesus wrote these words:  "...and A stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.  They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do" (I Peter 2:8).    Jesus Christ is the rock of offense to those who do not have ears to hear.  His mission was not to bring political peace for His kingdom is not of this world.  Rather, Jesus came to bring truth and salvation through His sacrifice to those who have been called by God.  
Taken at The Residence in Munich, Germany
     Knowing this, we should not be alarmed when we encounter opposition within our circle of friends, family and acquaintances.  We are merely passing through this world for our citizenship is in heaven.  May we be found faithful to stand firm knowing that God is watching over us and guiding our steps each day.  We must remember the words of Paul to the believers at Philippi:  "And I am sure of this, that He who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 1:6).  Selah!

Have you faced opposition for taking a stand in Christ?  Have you had friends and family pull away from you because of your faith?  I welcome your thoughts and sharing here.  Your comment may encourage another.


Christina said...

How very true my dear sister! This is such a well written post. Your message reminds me of something the puritan Thomas Watson said: "To pretend to preach the truth without offending carnal men, is to pretend to do what Jesus Christ could not." I join you in praying: May we be found faithful!

Anonymous said...

These words are so true Barbara. Persecution is a promise to those who live godly in Christ. If we never feel the pain of rejection from unbelivers than something is probably seriously wrong with our testimony.

I love Christina's quote.

God bless you sister.

Barbara Thayer said...

Christina...that is a wonderful quote. I so appreciate you sharing it. It is hard to think about persecution but in fact, we are aliens to this world. How I praise the Lord for His mercy in electing us by His grace. Even though the journey is challenging, every new day brings a closer walk with the Lord through the difficulties. Thank you for sharing...blessings to you!

Barbara Thayer said...

Yes, Diane...some think that when they become Christians, life will get easier...but that is not what the Lord said. While we face persecution, we are not alone. The best part is knowing that in the end, through Christ, we are more than conquerors! Thanks for sharing and your visit.