Good day friends! I pray your week and weekend went well!
Readings for June 28, 2020; Fourth Sunday after Pentecost Jeremiah 28:5-9; Psalm 119:153-160; Romans 7:1-13; Matthew 10: 34-42
Jesus said, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn
‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law— a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Matthew 10:32-36
Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 10: 37-39
I have often wondered if the first part of the above passage, verses 32-36, were the words that seemed to give some Christians the idea that they had the right to fight against others. To stand against others; to go to battle, to argue and fight them in the name of Jesus. At first glance, it would seem that is what we should be prepared for. In fact, there are many instances throughout history that display such behaviour. However, such behaviour is sinful. Such behaviour has not shone Christ’s light and love. Such behaviour is so, so sad! No, such behaviour, in the context of all Scripture, does not make sense.
We are told to love one another just as Christ has loved us. Christ is to be our example. We are to wash one another’s feet, carry each other’s burdens, be patient, be kind, be humble, be ready to give an answer to all those who ask. The only fight we, the followers of Jesus, are to undertake and be prepared for is the spiritual battle; “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12) And in preparation for that battle, our defense is found in the Armour of God and power of the Holy Spirit. It is a defensive stance, not an offensive, aggressive stance. So how are we to perceive the above words?
Well, let’s go back to when the words of verses 33-36 were first spoken. Micah, the prophet, spoke these words in Micah 7:6 when he was observing the Israelites around him. So many people had turned from God. So many people treated him and other prophets as enemies. It was not the faithful who were treating others as enemies; it was those who had turned from the Lord that were treating the faithful as enemies. In fact, Micah went on to say, “But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Saviour; my God will hear me. Do not gloat over me, my enemy! Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, the Lord will be my light. . . . He will bring me out into the light; I will see his righteousness.” (Micah 7:7-8,9b)
In this context, everything else that Jesus says in Matthew 10:35, 37-39, makes so much more sense. We have been warned that, as followers of Jesus, others will treat us as their enemies, even members of our own household. There will be division and a loss of peace in some of our relationships. Yet, above all we shall stand tall with our eyes and hearts focussed on Christ. We shall continue to seek, proclaim, teach, serve, forgive, repent and be faithful to him above all else, even if it opposes what our neighbour, society, and the world think we should do. We shall continue to protect and defend others, above ourselves. We shall live out the fruits of the Spirit– love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23) And you shall “live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1b-3)
But then, don’t be surprised or lose faith when at times there is no peace and you are treated as the enemy. Take heart. Stand firm. And together, “let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” (Hebrews 12:1b-3) And may God proclaim of you, “True instruction was in his[/her] mouth and nothing false was found on his[/her] lips. He[/She] walked with me in peace and uprightness, and turned many from sin.” (Malachi 2:6) AMEN!
Prayer: Dear Lord, at times, in my sinfulness, I want to lash out and fight against others to make them believe or to prove myself. Yet, that is not your way. Forgive me. Help me to walk in your ways and to proclaim you to those around me. Give me strength to endure when I am considered the enemy because of my love for you. Use me to show others your saving love and grace through Jesus, my Lord. In His name I pray. AMEN!