Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Great Divide

"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. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” -- Luke 12:51-53

For me, the most challenging aspect of parenting has been raising a teenager.  Being at odds with my son is not something I enjoy, yet I know of many parents in the church who either are, or have been, at odds with their children at one point or another.  When a child enters a season of rebellion, many thoughts come to the mind of a parent.  What have I done wrong?  Where did he learn that?  When will this heartache ever end?  I have even asked the question of God:  "Were you ever at odds with Jesus?"

The Bible tells us that Christ was one with the Father (John 14:20), obedient unto death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8).  Nowhere in Scripture can I find that the Father was ever at odds with his Son except during that moment of agony when he turned his face away as Christ hung on the cross (Matthew 27:46), bearing the weight of our sin .  I imagine, though, that his earthly parents, Mary and Joseph, must have been exasperated when Jesus went missing from the family caravan as they began their journey home after celebrating the Feast of the Passover in Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-49).  Jesus was twelve, nearly a teenager, and he decided to hang around the temple after the feast was over.  Unaware of this, Mary and Joseph headed for home, thinking he was among those traveling with them.  After three days of searching they finally "found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions" (v. 46).  Fully God yet fully human, Jesus had his heart set on doing his Father's business, even if that meant going against the flow and causing his family concern.

As long as we live on the earth as followers of Jesus, there will always be division and conflict.  Whether the conflict is between members of our own family or humanity at large, spiritual warfare is inevitable.  The question for us is whether or not we love Jesus enough to give him first place in our lives, standing for his principles of living rather than compromising for the sake of maintaining peace with those closest to us.  We can only pray that as we stand for the truth of God's Word and live as witnesses of God's love, grace, and mercy, that the hearts of those who are against us, and ultimately against him, will soften and eventually surrender to his grace and salvation.

The chasm may be wide, but Jesus came to bridge the gap.  "Let us hold unswervingly to the faith we profess, for he who promised is faithful" (Hebrews 10:23).

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