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? -NRSV
I came to bring fire…
One of the things that I learned early on in my ministry is that I have never been sent to a church to please people. The Bishop and Elders didn’t lay on hands at ordination for me to make people comfortable. The book of discipline contains duties of the pastor, and none of the instructions even suggest that my task is to make sure no one is offended, upset or even comfortable in the least. So how can I mess up?
By not hearing these words and helping to remind one another our task is not to make things easy on each other…at the cost of loosing hold of our mission in Jesus Christ.
But you might say..
the angels announced, “Peace on earth and good will to all people, everywhere!”
or did not Jesus say that, “blessed are the peacemakers, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” we sing about Jesus’ Silent Night..
But look at the examples: when his mother and brothers come to take him home because folks were beginning to talk of threats.. and he replies, who is my mother and brother? those who will follow.
So what does this passage in Luke have to do with us, today?
Its about the urgency of living as witnesses of Jesus Christ.
For most folks, given an opportunity to keep quiet on matter of faith-sharing, personal testimonies and public speaking about Jesus, the church and stuff that eternally matters… silence appears to be the leading example.
We assume folks have already heard, and heard enough.
We are busy, uncomfortable and even uneasy about what to say, where to start and when to stop. So our best hand to lead is to pass of hoping our partners have a better hand that we do.
Now our neighbors at the Baptist church usually turn up the heat of Hell and brimstone, sin and destruction… with an attempt to scare or coerce each other into stead faithfulness.
As United Methodist we some times take that heat and feed a fever… stopping at the HOPE that our witness will tell the story of Jesus, just as long as someone is looking on our good days, when they are willing to come on our terms join us in the things we call church…
…but this is not our true theology, not our calling and points to why Christ call remains urgent to us as disciples today!
Here is what is a stake:
If we feed and clothe people but don’t take that opportunity to find ways to transform their hearts with the message and power of Jesus Christ, they will only come back to us when the clothes are dirty or wear out.
If we join together in Christian fellowship over meals, coffee, and regular gatherings, but don’t take the time to SHARE, HEAR, and BUILD UP one an others faith, then we push something between ourselves and God… talking Church all the while.
If we rely on someone else to do the work of ministry for us, then we don’t build the relationship ourselves. Sports Example: (A house divided car tag plates:… Wendy and I are products of Vanderbilt and Emory…. Whiles Emory’s record in football is undefeated, Vandy doesn’t’ have many titles either, so we are not a threat…)
Staff Example: Rather than your church staff doing ministry for your, Our role is more as Coach and Trainers… you are the real players and stars of the team. We might be able to instruct, inspire or encourage, but it is your effort, labor, pressing on for the prize… that builds the relationship. (most folks don’t see it that way.. but the church doesn’t have any one of our names on it… it is Christ’s body and we all share the work of witness.
We can have the most wonder worship, the most effective ministry, the best attended programs and if we fail to share Christ, build each other up IN CHRIST, Forgives, Bless, Heal, Encourage then we have the look and not the substance..
The Urgency is about taking the life of Christian living seriously.
When you hear someone say or you say in your head:
“When I retire.” “When I get caught up.” “When I know more about the Bible.”
“When I have more energy.” “When things are going better in my life.”
“When I have more money.” “When… when.. when…
When I realize that Jesus is expecting me to address the hopelessness… people are feeling in this economy, loss of jobs, assets, and dreams.
When I realize that Jesus is counting on me to speak up in the face of injustice…
people feeling marginalized, discounted, prejudice, or plain forgotten.
When people are surrounded by every opportunity to hear Good News… instead they hear us complaining, bickering, gossiping, doubting, and hesitant.
What if we have 2012 more years before Christ returns… do we just wait for that generation to speak up? What if Christ’s time IS sooner than we’ve been assuming?
The Urgency may not be felt by us, seating in these pews, but it is felt but thousands, yes, THOUSANDS of our neighbors.. hope, waiting, needing to hear God’s message of hope TODAY, not later…
And THAT truth is the fire that burns… to challenge us or quiet us down…
I don’t know about your but I want to learn God’s division and on side of the SOLUTION and not the lowest common denominator.