PEACE OR DIVISION?

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL 

THE WAY FORWARD IN CHRIST
(Part 36)

PEACE OR DIVISION?

October 21, 2010

Today‚s readings
Psalm 33:1-19
Luke 12:49-53

In today‚s gospel, Jesus makes a startling and puzzling statement. „Do you think that I have come to establish peace on the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.‰ (Lk 12:51). Then Jesus proceeds to say that there will be division and conflict between households, and even between the closest of family members.

Now of course Jesus has come to establish peace. He is the Prince of Peace. He has reconciled us with the Father. And Jesus has also come to unite the people of God, to be one body of Christ on earth. What are we to make of his statement?

What Jesus is saying is that his life and words will be received by people in different ways, and as such, will become the cause of disagreements, strife and even division. People can choose to accept or to reject, to obey or to disobey, to follow or not to follow, to be faithful or to veer away.

When such happens, Jesus does not say that we are to aim for peace and unity at all costs. Otherwise, we should become politically correct in order not to get into conflict. Unfortunately, this is what is happening in many instances in society today. Christians do not speak out against sins such as divorce and gay marriage in order not to offend. And many Christians today do not want to rock the boat, and so will not confront sinners (in a loving way of course) or correct those who are veering away. Such a posture has simply led to a further weakening of the faith.

Thus peace and unity are very desirable values, but are not to be sought for their own sake. Our goal is not peace and unity, but rather to do God‚s will. Peace and unity are just a by-product of lives lived in accordance with God‚s will. So while we indeed strive for peace and unity, it is never at the expense of truth and obedience to God.

In fact, when we persevere in truth and obedience, that is when authentic peace and unity can occur. This is because those people who insist on veering away from God‚s will, when confronted with the truth, will ultimately be separated, like chaff from the wheat. What will be left will be those who would think and act in harmony with the Spirit of God. Then they can get on with pursuing the mission God has given them.

We do see that conflict and disunity happen so often in the body of Christ. This is lamentable and should not be so, for those who profess to follow and obey Jesus. How should we act in order to prevent or minimize such conflict and disunity in the body? Our action has to do with our relationship with God and with one another.

First, we should fear God. „Let all the earth fear the Lord‰ (Ps 33:8a). This means we should be in awe of God, knowing our proper relationship as creatures to the Creator, and as a manifestation of this, we should obey Him. When we obey God, then, in accord with the two greatest commandments, we not only love Him but we also love our neighbor. This specially true for those who are our brethren. We „do good to all, but especially to those who belong to the family of the faith.‰ (Gal 6:10). In community, such love should be even more intense. If we live out such love, then there would be no room for strife and disunity.

Second, we are to be just and righteous in our relationship with our brethren in Christ. „The Lord loves justice and right‰ (Ps 33:5a). We are to give to our brethren what is their due, that is, respect and fraternal love. We are to be righteous in all our dealings in community. This translates to a number of actions, such as, not being judgmental, avoiding maligning brethren in any way, speaking positively of others and showing them honor and respect, looking always to the good of others, being reconciled quickly when there is a rupture in relationships.

Jesus came for a mission, to proclaim the kingdom of God. „I have come to set the earth on fire, and how I wish it were already blazing!‰ (Lk 12:49). His work is a refining and purifying fire. Jesus came so that we might be saved and be restored to our relationship with the Father.

We the disciples of Jesus continue with his mission. His work is our work as well. We are to be evangelizers and missionaries, to proclaim his salvation throughout the world.

In this work, we can expect to encounter conflict and dissension, even from our own brethren. And as Jesus himself said, there would be division as well.

Let us stand fast on our faithfulness to our authentic calling. Only in this way can there be authentic peace and unity in our community. Then such peace and unity can be experienced by all followers of Christ as well, if not here on earth, then certainly in heaven.

*     *     * 

For discussion in household meetings
Am I in a current conflict with a brother or sister that remains unresolved? If so, how have I been guilty of failing to be just and righteous?

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