not peace but a sword | John 7.1
After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. John 7.1 | ESV
Next scene. Jesus was shifting northward in Galilee – not wanting at all to risk the more deadly circles down south in Bible Belt Judea country – the pious Judeans had put a price on Jesus’ head, “wanted” posters plastered all over the synagogues. MAV (Mike’s Amplified Version)
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come 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 person’s enemies will be those of his own household. (Matthew 10:34-36 ESV)
Or, if you prefer, in the Message: “Don’t think I’ve come to make life cozy. I’ve come to cut—make a sharp knife-cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law—cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God. Well-meaning family members can be your worst enemies.”
It’s another hard saying of Jesus reflecting a hard reality of life: those who seek and pursue peace are the ones who often find the most trouble.
“All who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” is how Paul put it in his final words to his young son in the faith.
“I am for peace, but when I speak, they are for war!” is how the Psalmist put it.
We much prefer the “when your ways please the Lord even your enemies will be at peace with you,” line of Proverbs.
But the fact remains, it’s often the peacemakers who end up with a kick in the teeth. And sure, all too often the righteous are rude and snarky (which compromises somewhat that whole “righteous” label, doesn’t it?) bringing abuse on themselves (jerks tend to be persecuted too).
But the reality is, as John frequently puts it, darkness doesn’t care for light – not one bit – any more than we’re fond of having a bright light in our faces in the middle of the night. Not a happy moment for most of us. So Jesus’ word to us is “Be prepared. If they did this to me, they will do it to you.” Don’t expect applause or likes on your Christ status, and don’t wilt under scowls of disapproval or guffaws of ridicule.
Which really drives us deeply into what motivates us, doesn’t it?
Just why are we doing what we are doing?
Does our passion watch and wane with other’s approval and liking of what we’re posting in life, or are we driven and sustained by deeper springs?
Well, how about it – why are you doing what you are doing? To what extent are you driven by a desire for praise and pleasing others?
Abba, lift my gaze today beyond accumulated likes and high fives of human approval – but keep me from being an obnoxious jerk who delights in tweaking others in your name too. Let me live from a true heart of peace – and be ready to embrace the consequences flowing from that embrace, good and bad. Through Jesus.