THE SERVANT GENERAL
THE WAY FORWARD IN CHRIST
PEACE OR DIVISION?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
* * *
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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