The Cut of the Sword

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth.  I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  Matthew 10: 34.

Sometimes I’m so guilty of forgetting this truth.  The word of God which is the sword of truth comes to divide between soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.  Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight.  Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.  (Hebrews 4:12, 13.)

How do we think to escape the penetrating eyes of a God who reads the heart’s motives?  The division spoken of in Matthew is between a person and his or her closest human connections–or the joints and marrow of our existence.  In essence we see this everyday of our lives in Christ.  The choices we make either make a compromise with the shadows or lead the way as a light through the dark of this earth’s twisted byways.  No one is safe from the divisive nature of God’s love for the world resents such boundless love based on the guidelines of righteousness.  It’s strange to say but the world would rather accept  and free a sex offender than give into the borders of God’s love, who’s Word says such a person must pay the penalty for their sin while on earth.  This latter truth doesn’t say anything about their eternity, however, but does declare strict boundaries for public actions.

Those who would follow Christ to the cross and beyond to His resurrection will be rejected by the rest of the world who in an effort to avoid death altogether, run right into its eternal clutches without seeing the warning signs glaring all around them.  It’s unavoidable that we will face opposition to our choice to follow the Man of Sorrows.

Jerome said something Sunday morning (very early I might add) that stuck in my head (paraphrased, of course),  “Those who face the Judge better be sure their fire insurance is paid up because everyone enters the kingdom with smoking coat tails.  This means if any of us have sinned, we must confess it and repent as soon as we’re aware of it.  If we have a problem with another person, we must quickly make it right so that nothing will stand in the way of our connection with God.”  He wasn’t saying our salvation would be forfeit exactly but our transition into the kingdom would be far more traumatic if we have not built our spiritual house with good materials.

Our choice to follow Jesus means we have forsaken all other teachings as authoritative for the authority of the Scripture.  This doesn’t mean we don’t see truth in those other ethics or celebrate the good in them, rather they are not our bottow line or first and last word.  In doing this we paint a big sign on our back which says “kick me” on it.  The world doesn’t like its own all that much because the fighting and discord demonstrate the chaos in its thinking, but it becomes absolutely united when confronted by the message of the gospel–I mean who wants to hear “repent and submit”?  This should serve as a warning to those of us who believe in Jesus as the Christ, at the same time we shouldn’t be all that surprised when professed “believers” misuse the Name for the sake of worldly gain or placement.  Paul claimed the world was dead to him because of Christ, how many Christians can say the same?

Yes, we are to work with our hands to provide for our families and the church; yes, we are to live quiet lives of light so the world sees our example.  And as far as it depends on us we must live at peace with all humanity.  Yet facing this as our responsibility doesn’t negate the reaction of the rest of the world to the message we teach, preach and live out loud.  The opposition to the Word of truth will come not just from those outside the walls of Christian faith but inside it as well.  Our belief will be challenged from inside by people we call our brothers and sisters in the Lord.  Why?  “God made man upright, but men have gone in search of many schemes.”  Solomon.  The world comes to the church in order to find the peace they see in the true believer, yet rejects anything about the church or Christ that doesn’t fit with their core desires.  Jesus warned us to beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing infiltrating the church.  Those who grow discouraged with the church because of the hypocrites in it seem to forget the meaning of their own faith.

Unless those of us who follow Jesus remain true to the Master despite the fakes who run after selfish gain from the truth, who will represent the Master to both the hypocrites and world?  In essence, we are all hypocrites in some form.  None of us is perfectly Christlike and those who might want to portray their walk as better than others imediately set themselves up for scrutiny from not only the church but world.  No, a humble realization of our own clay feet is vital to a clear true witness.

The moment we step into such a faith position, however, we set ourselves up for being cut off from those we value.  I find it strange the gospel brings this on in others because the teaching just doesn’t seem to be all that divisive.  Yet, it is and the proof can be found in 2000 years of persecution, political take overs, power hungry church leaders and martyrdom.  When we stand for the message of Christ in its totality as truth, our closest associates will push us away.

Here’s the kicker, however, we need to chew and swallow:  This separation must not ever be for obnoxious attitudes, presentation or relationship problems we cause.  In other words, if someone pushes me away, it must come as a result of them rejecting the positive change in our life and thinking.  Yes, Jesus demands radical change; yes, He makes radical claims; yes, we choose to follow the way through a very narrow gate.  Paul tells us those in Christ become the smell of life to those who being saved but the smell of death to those perishing.  Have you noticed, people don’t like to be reminded of their bad habits.  Even if we don’t say anything at all verbally, our example and lifestyle shouts volumes.

As far as it depends on us, we must live at peace with the world.  But this doesn’t mean peace will reign because the world is not a peaceful place.  When Jesus said world would reject us, He meant it.  He also said the only way to be accepted by them is to cave to the pressure the put on to conform to their way of thinking and behaving.  Then they will love us as one of their own–which is to say, until it’s inconvenient to their own plans to do so.

Yes, the Word of the Lord is two edged sword which will divide loyalties, connections, motives and convictions.

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One Response to “The Cut of the Sword”

  1. tlc4women Says:

    Why is that when we read we must live at peace with the world followers believe that means we must tolerate? Clearly the example given was about being set apart rather than conform.

    You’re right. When we stand for truth, we face alienation but we have to ask the question does it matter what people think or does it matter that our hearts be right with God?

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