14 August 2013

Too Hot to Handle?

The hot as blazes summer sun these days feels like a fulfillment of Jesus' saying in Luke 12:49: "I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!" With temps above 100 several days in a row, it feels like that fire has already been kindled around here in Houston.

Jesus has a way of saying and doing the unexpected. For example, a few verses later in Luke's gospel, Jesus says: "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 ... " -Luke 12:51-52

In some cultures today if you become a Christian you will be cast out of your family. That was also happening during the time when Luke's gospel was written. So Jesus says there will be divisions in the family due faith in Jesus and that is still true today.

"I call for a division of the house" is the terminology we use when there is a close vote on a controversial issue and we want a head count of who is "For" and who is "Against" the issue. Jesus would not be surprised by a call for a division of the house.

Conflicts even exist between family members of different Christian denominations. We hear of conflicts even within the same Christian denomination on certain hot button social issues. Such conflicts are anticipated and foreshadowed in this text.

According to Jesus, conflict is normal, natural, and to be expected in the church, in your family, even in your marriage. So let's not get stressed out over conflict. Note there is a difference between division and disconnection. Jesus says he generates division. Satan, on the other hand, generates disconnection. There is a big difference between division and disconnection. The key to a healthy church or family is how we stay connected even when we disagree.

There were three huts on an island. One of the islanders was asked by a tourist how the three huts were used. "That one is my house and that one is my church," said the islander. "So what's the third hut?" Said the islander, "That's my former church."

We have a preconceived idea of what Jesus is like and this text does not fit our perception. We think of Jesus as a mild mannered man of peace. Yet Jesus says I'm not here to give you what you expect. I'm here to give you what is hard to handle. I'm here to give you the Kingdom of God. Sometimes the Kingdom of God feels as hot as Houston in mid August. Is the Kingdom of God too hot to handle?