I am hoping in Christ that you all are doing well and enjoying your time with your families. I was reading from Luke 12:49-53 - Jesus the Cause of Division
"I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three; they will be divided."
I was thinking about the families. Oh, family, you cannot choose, it’s hard to live with them and hard to live without them. The more you try to make them happy the more they give you hard time.
When it comes to the meaning of discipleship, the cost that is involved, and the conflict and division that can be caused by the Gospel between families.
He is telling it like it is because he knows that in the future the strength of the disciples’ faith in their Lord and the discipleship of the early Christians will be severely tested. It will mean that families will be divided—those who follow Christ and those who ignore and reject the hope and true peace that he is offering.
Jesus is giving his followers this warning now so that they will not be shocked when following Jesus will mean some very tough choices—and what can be tougher than choosing between loyalty to family and loyalty to Jesus?
Let me share with you one of my favorite saints, Saint Francis of Assisi.
Now Francis Bernardone Known as Francis of Assisi was born at the end of the twelfth century. His father was a wealthy cloth merchant and had high hopes for his son. He became a knight in a war with a neighbouring province and had a fabulous future in front of him. Over time, he became convinced that God did not want him to be a dashing knight, but rather to be a follower of Christ, a genuine disciple. God wanted Francis to serve the poorest of the poor, and in those times, there were a lot of very poor people. Francis sold all that he had and gave it to the poor. He even changed clothes with a beggar and spent time begging in the streets of Rome. But his father took exception to all this since Francis had given away everything that his father had given to him. He threw Francis in jail, then took him to court. We’re talking about Francis of Assisi—for his heroic and noble stand and his persistence to follow the call of the gospel despite the cost. But the pain is real and lasting. He experienced first-hand the division that following Jesus can cause. Following Jesus sets father against son. Francis of Assisi wasn’t the first to feel the harshness and difficulty that came with following Jesus, nor will he be the last.
I, therefore, wonder about us here today. Let us ponder over a few questions raised from Luke’s reading.
- To what extent does being a Christian put us in a situation of tension, even conflict?
- To what extent are we prepared to put ourselves at risk, as Christian?
- To what extent are we prepared to stand up for what we believe, even though it means separation from others, or have we just blended in, with those who clearly don’t have any time for Jesus or the church or with a society that lives and conducts business as if there was no God?
- To what extent have we shrunk back from the whole idea that being a Christian will often bring us into a state of tension with the rest of the world?
There is only one way that we can do this. The letter to the Hebrews gives us the answer: "Let us lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith." (Hebrews 12:1,2.
Dear God, we yield our hearts and our relationship to you. In the pain and brokenness facing families today, let’s join in the prayer attributed to St Francis:
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
Have a blessed and peaceful time with your families.
Rev Kathreen Shahbaz