In pm's words
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August 19, 2019, 7:03 AM

the one about divison and peace...


Sermon from August 18, 2019

Luke 12: 49-56

This sermon didn't get to be preached because services were cancelled due to severe damage to our area after a major storm the night before.

 

Grace and peace to you from God our creator and our Risen Lord and Savior Jesus who is the Christ – will y’all pray with me? May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord, our rock and our redeemer; amen!

So… what a text to hear this morning, right? This is not an easy text, because well… again what Jesus says his hard.

We’re used to Jesus being the one who reaches out, who brings folks in, who proclaims and lives into radical hospitality. He’s the one that bursts open the door of God’s love that for generations had been proclaimed to be only for a ‘limited’ few. We’re used to thinking of Jesus who brings folks together.

Yet, here Jesus states that he explicitly comes to bring not peace, but division. Yikes. What in the world? What has our sweet Lord and friend done now?

Because you know what, we live in a world of division don’t we? We have families that are separated by beliefs and by the beliefs of others. We have relationships and friendships rend asunder because of who someone supports. We have a country and world that are at odds with one another over the smallest and the largest of issues. We even continue to have division within the church over how to follow Jesus.

Jesus comes to bring division, not peace, right?

We live in a world of division, and it’s hard. And the one place we’d like to come to find some unity and peace is Jesus, right? That’s something that everyone can get behind, correct? He should be the one that brings us together, amiright?

Jesus comes to bring division, not peace.

What, then, are we to do with this?

We even heard in Jeremiah this morning about the disruptive power of God’s word. Here Jeremiah likens the Word of God to fire and a hammer.

And I like that. I really do. I think it fits in well with what Jesus is telling those around him this morning – mainly those who are frustrated with him and the things that he proclaims.

God’s Word – the life that Jesus calls us into – causes division. It does. It causes division among people, it causes division in yourself. Those things that you take for granted because the world proclaims them begin to look a little bit different after the Word of God comes in like a hammer and shatters you. The Word that Jesus brings that makes things difficult because of what he calls for and who he includes in this life of faith.

Jesus comes to bring division, not peace.

But, here’s the rub. I don’t think Jesus brings division just to stir the pot. Jesus doesn’t bring or cause division just to sit back and laugh. Jesus doesn’t cause division just to watch the world burn.

Jesus doesn’t do that.

The division we see in the world is ‘caused’ and it harms people. We see division laid out because people are pitted against each other. We have folks in authoritative positions telling us that because of what this person believes, or how they live, or who they love, or where they come from – that they are bad people. Perhaps even beneath you because ‘you’ are a part of this certain group.

Have y’all noticed that?

We see it at work in the world of politics, don’t we? Especially during this time. Where those high up in either party will tell you that those people on the ‘other side’ of the aisle are terrible. No good. Not worth listening to. In fact, they aren’t even people.

It’s frustrating. It’s hurtful. It isn’t right.

We have churches and people within those respective traditions sniping at one another because beliefs don’t line up perfectly. It happens between folks in differing church bodies, it happens between people who are a part of the same church body.

It’s frustrating. It’s hurtful. It isn’t right.

The division that we see – that I see – in this world is one that can be dangerous and harmful for others. Where we are persuaded to think of the ones before us to be ‘less than’ compared to ourselves. That the division we see at play is because we are told that we need to watch out for ourselves. We need to care for ourselves first. We need to make sure that we have everything first before we can even begin to think about those people over there.

But, I don’t think that’s the sort of division that Jesus brings into the world. I don’t think that’s the case at all.

Jesus does bring division. But, it isn’t to hurt others. It isn’t to separate people from one another, just because.

Jesus’ word and life and call does cause division. It does. Because what Jesus proclaims and invites us into rubs up against what the world proclaims.

The world might say, ‘We need to close this off. We need to care for ourselves. We need to dismiss these people because of where they come from, who they are, who they choose to love, and what they look like.’

And as much as we might want to say that the ‘world’ doesn’t do that, it does. But, it doesn’t do it overtly (most of the time). It does it through jokes, through stories, through snide and bullying comments, through portrayals on the news, through the words and actions that are not addressed or spoken up about. The world and those in power sow that sort of division readily among us. The world proclaims that life. That the person next to you is trying to get yours, one up you, or get you in some way. So, watch out.

Yet, Jesus’ words speak counter to that thought and those views. Jesus causes division because he stands firmly against and says ‘no’ to the status quo. He challenges the ‘way its always been’ and shows us the truth of God’s love and light and power that is made manifest in every person and part of creation.

Jesus causes division because he shines the light on the ways that the world is wrong. He speaks out against those who shut people out, who separate folks from others, who wish to divide one another because they’ll be ‘easier’ to manipulate. Jesus says NO to all of that.

Jesus comes to bring division, not peace.

Jesus’ word and life and mere presence is like the Word of God used as a hammer that shatters us to pieces. It breaks us up. It tears down the walls that we have erected, and the world has helped us build to shut and keep people out. That hammer of God that topples the thoughts of ‘it’s always been that way’ and more. The hammer of God’s Word knocks us down. It causes division.

But, the Word of God – Jesus’ life, presence, and love – is also like fire. Not the type of fire that causes havoc and destruction, but the kind of fire that brings warmth and life. The kind of fire that helps cook and blend a delicious meal. The kind of fire that can repair the broken pieces back together into something different, beautiful, and what God has intended all along.

God’s word shatters us with the hammer, and God’s word brings us together into what God has intended our life to be.

A life that does stand against the sin and evil in this world. The sin that we have taken for granted because ‘it’s always been that way.’ The sin that we have taken for granted because those in power say that it’s right. The sin that we have taken for granted because we say we can’t do anything different.

Jesus causes that division to occur, separating us from the way of life that doesn’t bring life, grace, forgiveness, and acceptance from and to others. Jesus causes division when we begin to see the world through the eyes and ways of God instead of through the smudged glasses of the world. Jesus causes division when his Word and life show us a different, a better, a righteous way.

We like to think that Jesus is all about warm fuzzies. Jesus makes us feel good. Jesus doesn’t disturb. Jesus doesn’t rock the boat. Jesus is just content.

But, that isn’t what Jesus did at all. That isn’t what Jesus’ life and invitation calls us into.

The call of faith does disturb. It does challenge. It does rock the boat. It isn’t ‘content’ with what has always been.

Jesus brings division, not peace.

The division of Jesus is from the firm “NO” that he shouts to the sin of the world that is so easy to let into our lives. The sin that is so tantalizingly sweet because it lets us not move forward. The sin that causes us to sit back and not engage with the injustices of the world.

It has been said, the Word of God comforts the afflicted and afflicts the comforted.

Jesus’ Word – his life and breath within us – causes and compels us to move, to engage, to stir, to speak, to move, to stand, to accept, to forgive, to affirm, to love. And when you do that? It causes division. It afflicts us. It isn’t peaceful.

The world struggles. The world fights. The world grasps and gasps to hold on to the status quo. And Jesus says, “No. That is not the way.”

Jesus brings division, not peace. Jesus invites us to see the world in the way that God does. Jesus invites us to see others how God sees them – how God sees each of us. As wonderful, beautiful, and amazing creations of God.

That life and all its creatures – you and me, those over there, the trees and the fields, the waters and all the life therein – all of it, all of us, all of you – are all valuable. All have worth. All are together in God’s eyes and embrace. God is indeed close at hand and not far off from us, from them, from the world.

Jesus wants us to see the world that way. Jesus calls us to live into the world that way. That way of love, hospitality, and welcome.

And that way? It causes division. The world gasps and grasps to maintain the status quo. And here comes Jesus with the Word of God – with his very life, passion, death, and resurrection – and shatters the old way. And here comes the fire of God’s spirit – the Holy Spirit – that shapes and molds us into who God has created us to be.

Jesus has come to bring division. Jesus comes to show us another away. And thank God that he has. Amen.

 


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