Tuesday, March 10, 2015

I was going to say I think Im good, but thats not the point

Matthew 10:24-39
Our Gospel reading for today is a hard text.
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
These are hard words and seem to go against what we like to think of Jesus, He is the prince of peace, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. John 14:27 those are the words of Jesus we like to hear, and rightly so, so why here He is saying the opposite.
34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
35   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;
36   and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.

The Words of scripture are all God breathed, they are how God reveals himself to us in these last days. We submit to it when we don't understand it and we use scripture to interpret scripture, So how do these passages co exist, at his birth the angels sung “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” and here Christ himself says no to peace but yes to the sword.
to understand scripture, we must read scripture.
Our reading today, comes during Christ's commission of his disciples, the part midway through his ministry, where Jesus sent his disciples telling them, "as you go preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven [i]is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons." He then gives them a warning, He is sending them out as sheep among wolves. There are words of warning and promise, and then we continue to our section.
Now of course there is no contradiction in Jesus' words, he comes bringing peace to those who would accept his message, but to those who would reject him, they reject the peace that he brings. To these people only condemnation remains. It is said that "the same sun that softens butter, hardens clay." Either people will accept God's word as truth, or they will be insulted by it and hardened in their sin.
This is the situation that Jesus is preaching to, he knows that not all people will listen to the good news. they rejected him and hung him on a tree, likewise, in our day here in our own towns and families not everyone believes in Christ. And to these relationships not peace, but a sword is brought forth.
I could happily say to any one of you here gathered today, and those of God's flock not here right now, you are a sinner, you are an evil person, naturally turned away from God, your good works are useless when trying to get into heaven, you are a poor wretched sinner. Now I used the word happy for a reason, because we know what comes next. yes we are sinners, but Christ died for us. he died, and our sinful self died with him in our baptism. when I say you are an evil person, I am talking to the sinner not the saint. In heaven I won't be able to speak like that because the sinner will be fully dead, but here on earth, he keeps popping back up.
Now how do I think you would be received if I went to some of the non Christian members of our community and condemned their sin, told them they are not good enough to earn their way into heaven and their actions are deserving of the fires of hell. I doubt I would receive a warm welcome, though praise God if I do, because then I can proclaim the soothing words of the gospel.
To the world, to those who have not accepted Jesus as God's son, and the saviour of the world, our belief is foolish, we are weak, needing a crutch, a group of self righteous so and so's.  Even those we love will be turned away by our faith.
So what does Jesus say to us in the face of rejection from the world?
26 “So have no fear of them; 28 Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Now it is God who we are called to fear, not man, not rejection from the world, not rejection from our family. Yes this rejection can hurt, when our family and friends seemingly reject the good news that Jesus died, to set them free from the suffering and guilt that their sins causes, this is painful. But we cannot save ourselves, let alone our loved ones, that is God's work.
We never know what God is working in someone else's heart, we do not know how God is using our prayers, and loving actions, to work through the hard hearts of those we love. We do not know when the prodigal son will return or if it will happen in our lifetime. But we do know that every worker in the vineyard received the same wage of eternal life regardless of the time they were hired. God cares a huge amount about us, he even cares about each individual hair on our heads, We are worth more than many sparrows, and it is not God's will that a single child be lost.
Still, Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life, belief in Jesus as God's son and trust in his words is the only way to receive peace, true peace.
for those who persecute us, we do not fear them more than God. For those members of our family, we do not love them more than God. It is to God alone who we are held to account, and it is God alone who has saved us from this world of death. And saved us he has.
and The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.

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