Friday, July 11, 2014

Matthew 10:34-36 -- On Peace and Variance

"Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.
For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.
And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household."
Matthew 10:34-36

This is interesting, and seems to directly contradict other things in the scriptures, right?  What about "Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace," (2 Corinthians 13:11)?  Christ came to mess up peace, but commands us to live in it?  How does this make sense?
But it does.  We know this, first, because it is Christ... but also after we think about it a little bit. :)  Don't we sometimes want God to come down and solve all of our problems for us... just take them away, erase the corruption, stop the killing, end the hatred?  And I am sure that he, too, wants us to live at peace, which is why he asks it of us.  But the peace we need to learn isn't something that can be forced.  When someone holds a gun to your head and says "stop fighting," does that remove the hatred from your heart?  No.  The peace that we need to learn is within us... how to love, how to forgive, how to accept people that are different than ourselves.  And the way that we learn that is by God allowing us to have conflict.  Christ's coming definitely didn't erase conflict.  For some it did, internally, but not external or world conflict.  It actually stirred up some of that.  It split families apart, and still does sometimes.  A kid wants to join the church, or go on a mission, and a parent thinks that the kid is being brainwashed or becoming a fanatic.  Parents want to donate money to a religious fund or cause, and the children think they've gone senile and are worried about their own diminished inheritance.  One person blames the lack of God for the ills of the earth, and the other blames God.  They both question the other's intelligence.  And it seems that more and more in our society, we are becoming more polarized, not less.  We read things that are pleasing to us, that support our opinions, and we don't consider other perspectives, or challenge our own thinking.  ... When Christ said that he came to set us at variance, could he have meant that he wanted to make us *think* ... and figure peace out from the inside, rather than having it mandated from the outside?  Could he mean that he wants us to learn how important peace is by experiencing conflict and variance?  I definitely don't know the mind of Christ, but I think maybe that was part of it.
Today, let's think about peace, and where it comes from.  And let's pray for God to help us learn it, rather than expecting it to just settle upon the earth from the sky.  Let's stop and consider other perspectives.  Let's learn to listen before we demand.  Let's learn to love before we correct.  Let's learn from the variance around us.  We need to stand firm on the Lord's side, yes, and not get pulled away from him... but that never means hating or mocking.  And the Lord's side is the gospel... not necessarily all of the points of culture that we individually embrace.  God hasn't chosen a political party, and he isn't loyal to one country over another.  He loves and listens to all of us.  Let's learn from our differences and find our way to peace.

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