Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.
I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.
These words of Jesus are hard to swallow. Following Christ will cause conflict with others who don't believe. I may not like it, but it's true. I've experienced it enough to know I should expect it and not take it too personally. People thought me a wacko for calling a reading curriculum "evil." Peers in high school called me "religious" and "square." My own brothers respect me, but think me a bit radical. It's okay. Jesus reminds me no one is attacking me. They're reacting to my God.
I can take some fall out from those who may not understand my faith. But what really hurts my heart is when those who DO BELIEVE are at war. We nitpick over gray areas in scripture, making judgment calls on the spiritual health of our brothers and sisters without considering what God has called them to do. We hold others to the standards God has impressed on us, thinking less of them of they don't follow. Is it too far fetched to think God has differing relationships with His children? Isn't it possible He requires different things of different people?
The fire rises in my belly when I hear believers criticizing Christians they don't agree with. Who are we to know what God has placed in another person's heart? Quick to criticize each other's thinking and behavior, we reveal Pharisee attitudes which slow God's work.
And I must admit I am guilty. Sigh. Lord Jesus, clean my yucky heart.
Our fight is not with flesh and blood . . .
Jesus didn't bring a sword for us to fight with other believers. He brought weapons for us to fend off the enemy, the devil who seeks to destroy us, the forces of evil vying for our very souls. When we turn on each other, it only brings destruction and hampers the Body's display of a gracious, merciful God.
Join more In "Other" Words participants at Esthermay's blog, The Heart of a Pastor's Wife.