24 August 2011

Jesus Values Faith Over Peace

Luke 12:49-53

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

John summarises the problem very well in his first chapter.

He created the world.  He created everything.  He created people.  And people rejected Him.  He is not enough.  He was not trusted.  He was not loved.  He must either be used or ignored in order to get what we really want.

Did it work?  Not really.  If we would reject God, we would reject anything.  If we would proclaim proudly, "God is dead!", would any other life really matter?

Augustine put it this way in his Confessions:

When, then, we ask why a crime was done, we believe it not, unless it appear that there might have been some desire of obtaining some of those which we called lower goods, or a fear of losing them. For they are beautiful and comely; although compared with those higher and beatific goods, they be abject and low. A man hath murdered another; why? he loved his wife or his estate; or would rob for his own livelihood; or feared to lose some such things by him; or wronged, was on fire to be revenged. Would any commit murder upon no cause, delighted simply in murdering? who would believe it? for as for that furious and savage man, of whom it is said that he was gratuitously evil and cruel, yet is the cause assigned; “lest” (saith he) “through idleness hand or heart should grow inactive.” And to what end? that, through that practice of guild, he might, having taken the city, attain to honours, empire, riches, and be freed from fear of the laws, and his embarrassments from domestic needs, and consciousness of villainies. So then, not even Catiline himself loved his own villainies, but something else, for whose sake he did them.

In other words, people don't typically kill, steal, lie, commit adultery, etc... for its own sake.  They do these things as a means to an end.  And, what's really sad is that even if someone is successful in gaining the whole world.  It's all just temporary.  They leave a wake of destruction in their wake for what?

Jesus comes into the mess with a simple, life-giving message:  Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.  In other words, you've made a mess of things.  You rejected the King.  It's not too late.  The King still loves you and wants you to trust that He wants the best for you.  Turn around.  Accept His love.  Trust Him with the life He has given to you.

Done!  And they all lived happily ever after, right?  Problem solved?  No.

We rejected Him once.  We can reject Him again.  Jesus knew all too well that the answer would come swiftly and violently.  He would be killed to shut Him up about a Kingdom they wanted no part of.

Yet, Jesus knowing the violent answer that awaited Him did not seek diplomacy, appeasement or tolerance.  To Jesus, peace is not merely the absence of war or the absence of violence.  For there is no such thing apart from the One who is everlasting, immutable, holy and loving.  If we do not love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, there will never be peace.

And so, like a lamb to the slaughter, He accepted the people's answer.  And to the ones who believe in Jesus, to the ones who follow Jesus, they would walk down the same dangerous path.  Within families and friends, there would be some who would accept and some who would reject.

Those who accept Jesus as Lord have been and will continue to be rejected, mocked, exiled, spit on, hated, beaten, even killed.  Followers of Christ must never, ever stray from the path the Lord has walked and respond in kind.  Nor are we to cower in fear flinching from the blows that will come.  Jesus didn't do that either.  He trusted His Father until the end.  And, the end came with His Father vindicating His trust by raising Him from the dead to be the firstborn of many.

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and being sure of what we do not see.

Father, I want to trust you.  Please give me your wisdom to love you with everything I am.  Father, you are not a means to an end.  You are the end.  Hold me fast to the knowledge that I don't need anything else but you.  Not only for me, but for my neighbour as well.  All of my neighbours.  Amen.


  1. I think you are really reaching here to connect God's view of war with his approach of salvation. I don't see the relationship at all, in fact.

  2. Did you actually read the post?

  3. In a way, we consistently deny salvation through doubt, fear, anger and selfishness, whether we make it to the altar for the big acceptance speech. Faith is a struggle for all of us as it is about trust in that which is unfathomable. Peace can be seen as complacency or our belief that the problem will never reoccur, even if it is a pattern. War begins in our hearts. Adam and Eve committed the first war by going against God's explicit rules.

    St. Augustine was covering a lot of ground, but he does see the difference between just war and unjust. He wrote a lot about the fight within ourselves to believe and obey God as he fought that same fight. As a Roman, he would be more pressured to find a way to explain war, as Romans did that sort of thing. But it is the same doctrine that was furthered by St. Thomas Aquinas. I don't want to get into a different topic, but Augustine knew about the struggle with the flesh and the wars that took place outside of his body.

  4. You explain the inner conflict better than I do, Susan. And you are quite right when you say war begins in our hearts. Then, that war within spills outward even to those who are close to us.

    I think I confused things by introducing my post with John 1, but really the focus of my post was when Jesus said, "Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!"

  5. Choosing what is right versus what is easy will always cause division. Most people don't want to be right; they want their lives to be easy.