I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. (Luke 12:50-52, NIV)How easy it is to turn Jesus into a meek, mild advocate for the Rodney King philosophy ("Can't we all just get along?").
But that was not his intent at all. He stirred up the authorities. He made the religious leaders furious. He told his followers that if they stuck with him, they would be hated and abused, and should rejoice about it.
No. If peace refers to the absence of conflict and blind acceptance of everybody's beliefs because "all that matters is love," he did not come to bring peace. He came to bring a sword. He came to bring a radical way of living that would make the darkness tremble. He came to bring a Kingdom that would overthrow the kingdoms of men.
Yes, God is love. We are to love our neighbors, and even our enemies. But love is not synonymous with capitulation. Sometimes the loving thing to do is to stand for truth, share the truth, and confront those who need to be confronted.
That is the sword Jesus brought. The sword of truth. How we answer the question, "Who is Jesus?" will divide people. It just will. Those who insist that he is the one and only King of the universe and the only way to the Father will be accused of being insensitive, intolerant, and maybe even bigoted.
And that's okay - it's what he intended.
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every other name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11, NIV)Amen.