Skip to comments."Not Peace, but a Sword" (Sermon on Matthew 10:34-42)
Posted on 06/27/2020 11:55:51 PM PDT by Charles Henrickson
Not Peace, but a Sword (Matthew 10:34-42)
You are in a battle. It is a battle every Christian is called upon to fight, from the time we are baptized till the day we die. There is no opting out. You are engaged in this battle whether you realize it or not. So the thing to do is to fight it well. And that means we need help. For on our own we would not be strong enough to prevail.
What is this battle? The one Im referring to today is a battle from without, that is, from the world attacking us Christians. Oh, there is also a battle from within, namely, our own sinful flesh fighting against the new persons we are in Christ. Both of these battles, the conflict from without and the conflict from within, are inescapable for every single Christian.
The Gospel readings for today and from the last couple of weeks, from Matthew 10, have as their theme the attacks that the world makes against the disciples of Jesus. Meanwhile, the Epistle readings from Romans focus more on the internal conflict within a Christian, the battle of the new man versus the Old Adam. So its an ongoing war on two fronts that were engaged in. At times one battle is raging more furiously than the other, and so it weighs more heavily upon us, but there is no escaping either one.
Today were going to focus more on the external battle, the battle from without. This is what Jesus has been talking about in Matthew 10, namely, the world attacking the church. We have been hearing Jesus alert us ahead of time of the attacks that the church as a whole, and we as individual Christians, will face: We are like sheep in the midst of wolves. Men will deliver Christians over to courts. Brother will deliver brother over to death. We will be hated by all because we bear the name of Christ. Persecution, being maligned--these are the kinds of things we have heard Jesus warning us about the last couple of weeks.
Now today Jesus takes it even further: Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. Jesus says that the inevitable result of his coming--not the primary purpose, mind you, but the inevitable result--one consequence of his coming will be conflict. Not peace, but a sword, he says. The dividing lines will fall along the border of faith and unbelief, between receiving Jesus and rejecting him. Those who receive Jesus will also receive his disciples. Those who reject Christ will also reject his Christians.
And this division can happen even within families: 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 persons enemies will be those of his own household. Even among those close to us there may be those who do not receive Christ but instead reject him--and thus they reject us. This is a tough thing to deal with. People close to us in family may be far away from us when it comes to faith. This puts a strain and a rift between us. Those who ought to be near and dear become instead detached and distant. Sometimes they become downright hostile. And the division is really the result of Christ--or I should say, the result of their scorning of Christ.
Family members push us away. Friends avoid us and talk behind our back. The world ridicules and mocks us Christians. Lets hope this is not because we have been Class-A jerks. We dont want that to be the reason. Rather, if they do reject us, let it be because we have been consistent in our faith and our witness for Christ and in our stand on the word of God.
Let me give you an example. The world right now wants us to be accepting of homosexuality. The word of God, on the other hand, clearly condemns homosexuality as sin. So where will we take our stand? With the world or with the Word? The world calls this month of June Pride Month. Its a celebration of homosexual perversion--something which people ought to be ashamed of, but which now they take pride in. The so-called LGBT community with their agenda is openly approved of and actively promoted by various government officials, by many media outlets, and even by professional sports teams.
Now the fact that homosexuality is a sin does not mean that we dont try to reach out to homosexuals and bring them to repentance and faith in Christ for forgiveness. No, thats what we want to do. We want all people, whatever their sins, to come to repentance and the knowledge of the truth. But that means we must call sin what God calls sin. And that makes us very unpopular these days. Were swimming against the cultural current. There is great hostility in our culture right now against Gods Word of both Law and Gospel.
And there are other issues over which the world will attack us. Abortion comes to mind. Being pro-life is not politically correct. So if we do not go along with the culture on these issues, we may find ourselves at odds with friends and neighbors and even members of our own family.
Note, these examples of taking a stand on social issues--these are just in the area of Gods Law, that is, issues of morality, matters of right and wrong. But when we come to the Gospel, there too we can run into a buzz-saw of opposition simply for being a Christian. Because Christians sometimes talk about--surprise!--Christ. And lots of people dont want to hear about Jesus. It strikes too close to home. People are reminded of their need for a Savior, and that bothers them. Theyre reminded of their sins and the reality of death and judgment and eternity. Theyre confronted with their need for repentance and forgiveness. No, thats too much! Keep Jesus away from me! Christians, go away! Shut up! Youre threatening my self-security! Dont you dare talk about religion in my presence!
Friends, this is the same reason people stay away from church. They dont want Jesus to get too close. They want to keep God at arms length. They want to keep him boxed up in a little box that they can control. People are afraid of God getting too close and messing with their lives. They hate God, and so they lash out at Christians and pastors and at the church. This is the cross we bear for belonging to Christ. The cross is the suffering we endure precisely because we are Christians.
What to do about all this? First, we ourselves need to repent. We who would call the world to repentance need to take a look at ourselves. Theres more than a bit of the world inside each one of us. Theres a worldling inside who wants to assert him or herself. Theres that guy inside of me who doesnt want God to get too close and mess with my life. I would rather keep God in a box sitting on the shelf. We are the world--all too much so, Im afraid. So we need to repent.
And while were at it, lets repent of those times we have been Class-A jerks. Maybe we have been obnoxious and uncaring. Theres a way to be firm and consistent without being obnoxious, but its also easy to cross that line and become the stereotypical cartoon Christian. God help us to keep the right balance.
Then thats another thing. Pray for Gods help to be a consistent, courageous, and caring Christian. Pray. I think we forget this all too often. I know I do. God has promised to hear our prayers when we call on him for strength and help. So lets take him up on his promise! He will help us to be strong and faithful Christians in the face of persecution, in the face of the worlds mockery, and at the potential distancing of family and friends.
So, repent of your own worldliness. Repent of being a jerk toward others. Pray for Gods help to be a better Christian. And then--and this may sound odd--love Jesus. Yes, love Jesus more than you love your friends and family. This is not to say you should not love your family and friends. Just love Jesus more. Dont let the pressure from friends or family get in the way of following Jesus. Dont let them pull you away from coming to church and hearing his word. Remember what Jesus said: Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Finally, then--and this is the most important thing I have to say to you today--here is why we do love Jesus, and we love him more than anyone or anything else: Because he is our Savior. He is our life. Our life was forfeit; it was a mess, a loss, a dead end. We were headed for destruction. That self-life we were holding on to--we may not be gay, but each of us by nature was having not just a Pride Month but a Pride Life--that defiant lostness permeated every one of us. But Jesus Christ came, the Son of God from heaven, and he humbled himself, taking all the scorn and rejection the world had to offer. Jesus suffered all this for you, and for all humanity. For there was no other way for all the sin and hatred of God to be taken away than for Gods own Son to take it upon his own shoulders and carry it to the cross. Jesus took up his cross, and it meant the salvation of the world.
Whatever your sin, whether open and blatant or hidden and respectable, Jesus died for you. He took all your sins on himself and paid the price by his death on the cross. Now you are forgiven. New life, a new mindset, new strength to follow Jesus, new hope, the sure hope of the resurrection and everlasting life--all these gifts are yours in Christ. Jesus is your Savior and the Savior of the world--the very world that continues to attack him and his Christians.
So you, dear Christian, dont be afraid when the world attacks. Expect it. Ask for Gods help and strength to stand firm in the battle. For Jesus has already won the battle for you. Find your life--your real life, your new life, your eternal life--in him.
[Jesus said:] 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 persons enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophets reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous persons reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.
Thank-you for this most urgently needed message. All that you have written is playing out all around us and in our families. If only more pastors would deliver such messages, but they do not. Rather they preach something safe.
Bookmark and Thank you.
It is a good one. Thanks Pastor Henrickson.
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