Wise Words

"Wait on the Lord, be strong and of good courage, and He shall strengthen your heart...wait on the Lord. Psalms 27:14

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

In Other Words for January 26



Many people use this quote out of context and do not regard the rest of the passage this is in. People who utilize this quote utilize it in such a way that they say, "See, Jesus advocates violence! Here's proof!" Far from it.

To be fair, one must read it in its entirety in context with the other verses. "Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s enemies will be the members of his household. He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who has found his life will lose it, and he who has lost his life for My sake will find it." Matthew 10:34-39

The first important observation is to recognize that Jesus does not speak about "the sword", but about "a sword". Jesus is not a "prophet of the sword" as is taught in Islam. The sword of violence, force and war has no place in His message. What kind of sword is He talking about?

It is the sword of division that God's word brings. It is the division of truth from error, and the reaction of the darkness against the light. It is also the sword of the gospel and the sword of truth. The sword that Jesus brings, is the sword that his followers have to suffer, a sword that is applied to them, not a sword that they wield against others.

This verse in context shows that Jesus knew that His words would cause controversy, that Christianity would cause strife between family members and that in preaching the Gospel, those who preached it would not be warmly received for this is a sinful world filled with the sinful nature of man. It speaks about the consequence of being obedient to the command of Jesus that we are to preach His message, and for many, to hear the words of the Gospel, telling people to go against their sinful nature will cause them to reject it, make them angry and react with violence.

We will be hated for the message of repentance that we have to bring. We will be hated because we call people from evil to light and because this message exposes their evil deeds. The sword of the gospel cuts and divides, as the word of God does (Hebrews 4:12), "between eternally hostile principles, penetrating into and rending asunder the dearest ties" (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown). Though the ultimate end of the gospel is peace with God and with those who love Him, the immediate result of the gospel is frequently ideological and moral conflict with the world.

For many it will mean that even our own family will turn against us. Faith in Jesus requires total commitment from those who choose to follow Him (Mark 10:27), and love and allegiance toward Him and His word is contrary to the "natural man" and the world system, "for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?" (2 Cor 6:14). Therefore conversion to Christ can result in strained or broken family relationships, persecution, and even martyrdom, due to rejection of the gospel. And exactly that happens in many countries. The fellowship of believers, while full of peace, incurs the wrath of the nonbelievers. Christians are gathering peacefully, yet are persecuted.

Richard Lenski offered insight into the implications of the “turmoil” brought by Christ:

The idea is this: if Christ had not come, the earth would have gone on undisturbed in its sin and its guilt until the day of its doom. Now Christ came to take away that sin and that guilt. At once war resulted, for in their perversion men clung to their sin, fought Christ and the gospel, and thus produced two hostile camps. Christ foresaw this effect and willed it. Emphatically He declared that He came to throw a sword on the earth. Better the war and the division, saving as many as possible, than to let all perish in their sin (1943, p. 415).

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword," is a wonderfully honest statement about the need for the sword of truth, Christ's Sword of Truth, which heals the wounds it inflicts. Only by becoming a Christian and by being indwelt with the Holy Spirit can we understand the Truth that Jesus brings and can that healing begin. The Truth renders those still in the dark stiff with anger and indignation over their sins and sinful lifestyles being brought into full exposure to the light. Once we are brought into that light, we no longer need fear the Sword of Truth, and instead will find the peace that passes all understanding.

To view more "In Other Words" participants this week check out The Heart of a Pastor's Wife. Thanks to Esthermay for hosting this week!

6 comments:

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Well posted, Nic. It's a good message.

MiPa said...

"an honest statement about the need for the sword of truth" How important this is! It is so easy to want to allow things to "slide" but the reality of the gospel is that it does divide and we must speak truth in all things. Thanks for the reminder. Bless you my friend!

vegaia said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Tami Boesiger said...

The way you talk about the sword healing the wounds it inflicts is interesting. If others accept its message, I suppose you're right.

Denise Hughes said...

"The sword that Jesus brings, is ... a sword that is applied to them, not a sword that they wield against others." What a great perspective! This is great food for thought. I'm so glad you participated in IOW this week!

BTW - I'm 36 too, and my first two kids were born 8 years apart. Nice to "meet" you.

Denise Hughes :)

Esthermay said...

...as my grandpa would have said, By-George, you've got it!
:-)
Amen! to all you've presented in this post. I've not seen that Lenski quote, but I do like that last sentence -- better the war and the divisions, saving as many as possible...

Don't you think that those who refuse to confront sin and er in the pursuit of tolerance and "keeping the peace" fail to see the BigPicture of eternity??

The Gospel of Salvation confronts. Absolutely. This is precisely what Jesus warned of in this passage.

Thank you for such a clear explanation!

Blessings to you,
~esthermay