"Do you think I came to bring peace on the earth? No I tell you, but division."
Say what? It occurred to me that I haven't heard a lot of messages preached on this verse for some reason. I have heard lots of sermons about peace...and I always hear teaching about unity in the body of Christ. But I never hear messages about how Jesus came to bring division. And yet - here it was, written in red because Jesus said it - and so how do you argue with that?
Of course division isn't something that the kingdom of God sets out to achieve. It's not a desired outcome as much as an inevitable one. When you raise a standard of love and forgiveness in a world full of arrogance, hate and judgement, you're bound to have conflict. That's what Jesus was talking about. Division is inevitable when our core principles collide. Relationship vs. Religion...it just doesn't jive.
The danger comes when we try to make it all work together. You know...'God is a God of love' and 'why can't we all just get along?' and 'there are many roads that lead to heaven' and all that other politically correct crap!
Jesus said, 'I am the way, the truth and the life and no one comes to the Father except through me' (Jn. 14:6). That's how the 'Prince of Peace' causes division! Love and forgiveness, yes. But only through Christ. And only through a life-changing relationship with Him. These are the principles that divide. And we need to uphold them, even when they offend. Paul said that the crucifixion of Christ - the gospel - is a stumbling block to the Jews and foolishness to the Gentiles. Translation...Jesus divides.
So when you are tempted to dumb it down or soften it up to appease someone's sensitivities, just remember - the gospel calls people to a definitive choice. Seeker sensitivity is one thing, but there comes a point where the dividing line is very clear. Jesus is the only way.