|Series Theme: Difficult Questions|
Title: 12. Did Jesus Come to Bring Division?
A series that helps consider difficult questions of the Christian faith
In Luke 12:51-53 Jesus says he's come to bring division in families.
I thought Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers" (Matthew 5:9).
How can he say the two things?
Yes, a Christian is to be a peacemaker. That is something that they can work for.
Jesus actually said to Christians, "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:44). That's the extent to which Christians should be working!
However, think what happens when someone becomes a Christian, you see it regularly.
a) The general example in a family
Joe or Josephine become a Christian. Suddenly the whole basis of their life has changed. Suddenly they are concerned about what God thinks, concerned to put God first, concerned to learn about the Christian faith, concerned to meet with other Christians. These are common experiences of Christians. It's just how it is.
Now consider their family, who are not Christians. The basis of their life is to do what they think. Very often they think the member of the family who has become a Christian is strange.
They find what has happened, initially at least, difficult to understand. Suddenly there is a division.
In some cases, the new life of the new Christian shows up the tawdry life of another member of the family who is not a Christian. They don't mean to, but it just happens. Light and darkness don't go well together.
Suddenly the non-Christian family member is defensively antagonistic. There is a division between them.
b) An applied example : Racism
Let's consider a specific example of this happening. Corrie has grown up in a family with a fair measure of racial prejudice. Corrie becomes a Christian. She starts reading the New Testament and becomes convinced that we are to love one another, regardless of colour, race or creed. She expresses this in the family. Immediately there is a division in the family.
c) An Understandable Division
So we can see, that although the Christian may not want it, the very nature of having a specific spiritual experience, and then formulating a completely new outlook to life which may conflict with that of other members of the family, cannot but help create a division.
d) The Problem of Immature Communication
While answering this question, it would only be right to acknowledge the failure to communicate well, that many new young Christians seem to manage to achieve!
It is often the immaturity of the young that fail to communicate what has happened in acceptable terms.
Many a parent has probably been antagonized by the brash attempt to communicate the Gospel when their young have become Christians.
To be suddenly told, "You are going to hell", or even have the truth of what has taken place shared in such a way as to make you feel you are being deemed inferior, is not easy to take! The young are not always wise! But give them time!
The reality is that the parent should be really reassured that their son or daughter has just stepped out on a new moral lifestyle that should cause less worries than might have been previously.
Sadly the immaturity of the young or the defensiveness of the old, cause unnecessary division.
Unnecessary division? Yes, there will be a measure of division as we've explained above, but that does not need to be hostile division - but perhaps that is asking for too much grace on both sides!
e) An Alternative?
If you are the new Christian, then take your time sharing the wonder of what you feel you have experienced, and try to understand what your family or friends might be feeling. Be wise in your sharing.
Realise that if this comes as a surprise to them, they may need time to adjust to it, or even to come to understand it.
They may think you've just become a religious fanatic or, even worse, that you've just joined some religious cult! Make sure neither is true!
If you are the person close to someone who has just become a Christian and you find what has happened difficult to understand, don't respond harshly. That is just fearful defensiveness, and you don't need to have that!
Instead, why not ask them to sit down and explain to you, in words of not more than two syllables, just what has happened to them - and don't forget to make big allowances for their immaturity level!