We live in a divided age. Many folks lament the seemingly unbridgeable gap between those on opposite ends of the political and philosophical spectrum. Even many Christians are heartbroken and deeply distressed.
It is right, on the one hand, for us to be disturbed. After all, as we see people hurting each other and going against the word and ways of the Lord, we should be sorrowful. We should be ready to weep with those who weep. And we should be genuinely and righteously angry over sin.
At the same time, I wonder how much of the distress that Christians are feeling today is because we are surprised. If in fact we have allowed ourselves to be surprised by this age and its evil, I fear that we have somehow swallowed a lie. Our surprise has to do with the dissonance between the falsehood we have believed and the true and biblical reality of our situation.
Christian, do you expect this life to be peaceful? Do you believe that, if you just behave kindly and live as a productive part of your community that the world will treat you well? Do you believe that, if your church does kind acts—picks up the garbage in the local park, makes lunches for teachers, hands out food for the homeless, washes the local library’s windows, walks dogs at the Humane Society—that the world will love your church? Do you believe that, if we will just compromise a little bit on seemingly secondary moral issues that the world will leave us alone?
I want us to be faithful and kind as citizens in our community. And I want us to live lives of such a salty flavor that the world will see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven. And I want us to embrace causes of righteousness and justice. But, and this is important, if you expect that the world will embrace us, you are mistaken, dangerously mistaken.
Luke 12:51-53 – 51 Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. 52 For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
In my daily reading, I ran across the paragraph above. There Jesus reminds his hearers that he came not to bring peace but division. Jesus knew that his gospel and the word of the Holy God will cause people to be in conflict. Families, communities, and nations will turn against one another. This is not because Jesus is a violent insurrectionist. But it is because the ways of the Lord and the sin of the world are infinitely separated by a gap that cannot be narrowed.
As time goes by, Christian, if you genuinely embrace the word of the Lord and genuinely follow the Savior, you will find yourself at odds with the world around you. People will see that you cannot applaud and embrace what they do and how they think. And in our fallen world, people will eventually hate you for not applauding them. Eventually, the world will demand that you bow down to their idols. And if you will not bow, they will begin to heat the fiery furnaces.
I do not tell us this today in order to discourage us. Instead, I say this to hopefully remind us of the need for steel in our characters. We need to be willing to suffer. We need to be willing to die instead of embrace sin. We need to be willing to speak the truth, even when speaking that truth could cause us to be turned out of our homes or fired from our jobs.
If you know me, you know that I am not here suggesting that we be intentionally provocative and insulting. I despise the ugly, snarky, insulting, gotcha language that I so often read from Christians in social media. I believe that we can speak the truth with respectful tones and at wise times. So, I am not suggesting that you have to be the one who forwards a nasty and provocative post or the one who somehow sabotages every family meal with an argument. Trust me, if you are faithful to the word, honest with your words, even if respectful, you will find the conflict without having to try to start it.
Christians, loving Jesus means we cannot love the ways of the world. Following Jesus means we cannot accept the world’s redefinition of morality. We cannot act as though lies are true. We cannot act as though all people have heaven awaiting them. And the world will hate us for what we believe.
What then do we do? We need to expect the world to divide against us as it hated Jesus. And then we live faithfully before our Lord. Share the true gospel. Tell the clear truth in a godly way. Love people enough not to pretend you believe a lie. And when the division comes, do not despair as though you are facing something God kept hidden. The Lord told us what it will be like to follow him. It is taking up a cross daily. May we do so for the glory of Jesus.
And do not let this division make you feel defeated. The Savior conquered the grave. The Savior promises his return. The Savior says that he will build his church and hell will not prevail against it. The Savior brings life to dead hearts every day. The Savior has the power to move the hearts of kings. The Savior will reign, and nothing will stop him. So, let us be faithful even as we pray, “Even so, come Lord Jesus!”