Luke 12:49-53 ESV
“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.”
Parallel Scripture Passage:
But Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 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. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.” Matthew 10:34-38 ESV
So, what was Jesus’ meaning in the words spoken here? What he meant is that, when we believe in Jesus Christ with God-given faith, and we are crucified with him in death to sin, and we are raised with him to walk in newness of life in him, our lives now change. We aren’t the same people we were before. For we were walking in darkness, and now we are walking in the light, provided that our faith is genuine faith. And so that may not go over so well with some of our family members.
In some countries, those who convert to Christianity may even be kicked out of their homes, and they may lose their jobs or their positions in the community, etc. And they may be under the threat of severe persecution and imprisonment and even death unless they renounce Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. So far, in America, we have not had such a severe reaction to people believing in Jesus Christ, but in some homes in America they may have such a reaction.
I believe one of the reasons in America there is not such a drastic response to people believing in Jesus is because the faith that is being taught today is so diluted that it doesn’t resemble at all the faith that Jesus taught. For it doesn’t teach the crucified life or full surrender of our lives to Christ or the forsaking of sin to follow Jesus in obedience. It is more of just an acknowledgement of Christ as Lord and Savior which then guarantees the “believer” full forgiveness of sin and heaven as his eternal destiny.
And the “believer” then is basically given carte blanche to continue in deliberate and habitual sin under the auspice of God’s grace. For they teach that once you are in you are in regardless of how you live. But that isn’t the gospel that Jesus taught or that his New Testament apostles taught. Now, they didn’t teach that we have to live in absolute sinless perfection, otherwise why did Jesus need to die if any of us could do that? But they taught that we must walk no longer in sin and we must walk in obedience to our Lord or we do not have eternal life in him.
So, in America, if you “believe” in Jesus with human-based faith that creates in your own mind what that faith looks like, and your life doesn’t change at all or you only make some minor adjustments, but fundamentally you are still the same person pretty much doing the same things you did before you “believed” in Jesus, chances are pretty good that you will not experience what these verses are talking about. And that is because a socialized Christianity is acceptable in America as long as you don’t “make waves.”
On the other hand, if you are truly crucified with Christ in death to sin, and you are raised with him to walk in newness of life in him, and now you have been set free from your slavery to sin, and so you are now choosing to walk in obedience to the Lord and no longer in sin, that might upset some households where the others are not where you are. And your decision to put your total trust in the Lord and to follow him wherever he leads you may not sit well with your family members, or with some of them.
And so you may be called upon to have to make some hard choices. Are you going to “play it safe” and not drastically change your lifestyle so that you can be more acceptable to your family? Or are you going to follow Jesus Christ wholeheartedly regardless of how you are treated by your family? Is your family going to come first, or Jesus? Now, I am not advocating the neglecting of your family, but if we are Jesus’ true followers he has to be in first place and he rules over everything else.
For, if we prefer the acceptance of our family members above obedience to the Lord, he says we are not worthy of him. We can’t make compromises. We are either dedicated to following Jesus with our lives or we aren’t. And if we are dedicated to following Jesus wholeheartedly, it is going to upset some people, for certain. So, a genuine decision to believe in Jesus is death to our old lives and it is choosing Jesus above all else, and it is daily denying self and dying to sin and following Jesus in obedience.
[Matt 7:21-23; Matt 24:9-14; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 1:18-32; Rom 2:6-8; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-14,24; Rom 12:1-2; Rom 13:11; 1 Co 6:9-10,19-20; 2 Co 5:10,15,21; 1 Co 1:18; 1 Co 15:1-2; 2 Tim 1:8-9; Heb 9:28; 1 Pet 1:5; Gal 5:16-21; Gal 6:7-8; Eph 2:8-10; Eph 4:17-32; Eph 5:3-6; Col 1:21-23; Col 3:5-17; 1 Pet 2:24; Tit 2:11-14; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6,24-25; 1 Jn 3:4-10; Heb 3:6,14-15; Heb 10:23-31; Heb 12:1-2; Rev 21:8,27; Rev 22:14-15]
Near the Cross
Hymn lyrics by Fanny J. Crosby, 1869
Music by William H. Doane, 1869
Jesus, keep me near the cross;
There a precious fountain,
Free to all, a healing stream,
Flows from Calvary’s mountain.
Near the cross, a trembling soul,
Love and mercy found me;
There the bright and morning star
Sheds its beams around me.
Near the cross! O Lamb of God,
Bring its scenes before me;
Help me walk from day to day
With its shadow o’er me.
Near the cross I’ll watch and wait,
Hoping, trusting ever,
Till I reach the golden strand
Just beyond the river.
In the cross, in the cross,
Be my glory ever,
Till my raptured soul shall find
Rest beyond the river.
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