I came to cast fire on the earth, and would that it were already kindled! I have a baptism to be baptized with, and how great is my distress until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division. For from now on in one house there will be five divided, three against two and two against three. 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.” (Luke 12:49-53)

This proclamation made by Jesus seems to be confusing and contradictory. Consequently, down through history many skeptics, philosophers, atheists and critics have used it as a means to discredit Jesus and the Bible and undermine our Christian faith. They claim that, if Jesus was a man of peace, how could He make such an aggressive and bloodthirsty proclamation? The point that such critics seek to make is that Christianity is untrustworthy and false because either Jesus was not as loving as He claimed or else the Bible is filled with contradictions and lies.

Though what Jesus says here seems confusing we must realize that His statement is not a proscription or command. It is not to be taken as a call for violence. It is a prophecy. Jesus came to restore peace and unity between God and man by His atoning sacrifice on the cross, but mankind would not accept it. Faith in Christ is a paradox: it unites believers but divides them from everyone else who reject Jesus. They would rather hate Jesus and persecute true believers with violence in an attempt to silence the truth. The gospel separates and divide families, friends, neighbors and societies because its very nature demands that our relationship to Christ, our loyalty and love for Him must take first place in our lives over all other relationships.

We who have faith in Christ who live in the United States must contemplate this truth as we endure this latest political campaign: we are members of His Kingdom first and foremost. We must seek to honor the Lord and bless others by adhering to God’s truth with love, grace, forgiveness and mercy despite what others say or do to us or the losses and pain we must endure.