So often we hear the message that Jesus has come to give us a peaceful, easy feeling in our hearts and peace in our homes in the present, and that only at the end of time will there be fire and a great division. And yet, both the gospel narratives and the witness of so many courageous Jesus-followers reveal a quite different picture: we're called to stand right now today with Jesus "in the fire"—even at the cost of conflict in our most cherished relationships—and we can do so because of our allegiance to the peaceable kingdom which is the world's coming future.
Make no mistake, in Jesus God is accomplishing peace. He is the "dawn from on high breaking upon us...to guide our feet into the way of peace" (Luke 1:78-79). But walk in those steps today, and others will have to join in, or else march to their own beat.
Lord, you said that the peacemakers are blessed. Mold me into an instrument of your peace, and keep me that way when others take offense. Make me a harbinger of the future victory you have already won. Amen.
Luke 12:49-56 (NRSV)
49 "I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!
50 I have a baptism with which to be baptized, and what stress I am under until it is completed!
51 Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division!
52 From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three;
53 they will be divided: father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."
54 He also said to the crowds, "When you see a cloud rising in the west, you immediately say, "It is going to rain'; and so it happens.
55 And when you see the south wind blowing, you say, "There will be scorching heat'; and it happens.
56 You hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?