Life of Christ 121
Jesus and His Apostles are traveling and preaching through Judea in the Autumn before His death. Our story today (Luke 12.51-53) is a continuation of a conversation He began earlier in the chapter with the same crowd.
There are a multitude of misconceptions in the popular mind about Jesus. They result from a refusal to see Him for Who He is rather than for who they want Him to be. People often latch onto one valid aspect of Him that they like, and then magnify that in their minds until that is all Jesus is. 'Jesus? Oh, yea, He loved people. He was merciful. He was kind.'
This is one of the reasons why it is so helpful to take an in depth look at the life of Christ, such as we are doing on this blog, so that we may see Him in His entirety rather than just focusing on the aspects that we like.
One of the great misconceptions about Christ is that He came to unite all people. He actually didn't. He came to unite all of the people who choose to believe on Him, but where there is no common belief about Jesus Christ there is no common ground, and thus no union. 'Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are' (John 17.11). For instance, the great passage about unity, Ephesians 2.13-14, is about believers. So is Ephesians 4.5-6.
Jesus Christ spoke of mercy, grace, redemption, forgiveness, and love, but He also spoke of judgment, law, condemnation and division. And He Himself is that dividing line. 'So there was a division among the people because of Him' (John 7.43).
What a person believes about Jesus determines their eternal destiny, but it also determines, in a very practical way, my level of relationship with them. There is to be a unity in my heart, mind, and life with those who are in 'the faith', and the extent to which they are in the faith, and like Christ, is the extent to which I can be united with them. 'Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ' (Ephesians 4.13). Otherwise, if there is no common belief in Christ, and behavior like Christ, then there is a specific call for us, not to unite with others, but to separate from them (II Corinthians 6.14-15).
With that by way of a foundational explanation look at what Jesus says to this Judean crowd. 'Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one household divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law' (Luke 12.51-53).
Now let me make a statement that many will not like, but one which I firmly believe is the real life application of this story. There will never be unity in your family until they all come to Christ. It is for this reason that your family reunions and holiday get togethers are always a little tense. This is why they look at you like you are crazy and you look at them like they are crazy. You have two different allegiances to two different kingdoms. I'm not saying you shouldn't want unity. I'm not saying you shouldn't pray for unity. I am saying that you won't ever have unity unless and until everybody in question kneels in humility at the cross.
This is why many of you have a closer actual relationship with other people where you attend church than you do with your own flesh and blood. It isn't because your church is a cult, and that it forbids you from contact with your family members. No, it is simply because there is a huge barrier between you and your sibling, your spouse, your parent, or your child, and that barrier is their rebellious refusal to believe in the claims of Christ and to live their life in accordance with His will.
I'm not saying you should want this, but I do believe that you need to understand it. Doctrine divides. Jesus is the dividing line. The only way to stop that division is to get your loved ones on the same side of that dividing line as you.