All I’ve been able to think about during this time are Jesus words in Matthew 10:
“Do not suppose I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law – a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”
The gospel of Jesus Christ does not make sense to everyone. It seems downright foolish – stupid and dangerous to many. The Kingdom of God is not well received by the majority of the world around us, maybe not by those who sit next to you in worship, maybe not by those who sit next to you at dinner.
Divisions are not really the issue. Jesus tells us the gospel is, by definition, divisive.
The issue is how we respond to that division. For some, they see Jesus’ talk of swords as allusions to violence. We plant our flag in the ground and defend it to the death, pushing away those who disagree and increasing the chasm that’s grown between us.
For others, the next few verses ring true:
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
The other response, opposite, but equally problematic to violent self-defense, is denial. We pretend the divisions between us don’t exist. We avoid talking about them or looking at them. We carry on as if everything is fine, hoping it will be.
Neither of these responses reflect the gospel. We can’t pretend our divisions don’t exist. We must, indeed, plant our flag in the ground and hold firm to our beliefs. What we must not do, though, is allow those divisions to break the bonds of love that tie us together as people.
Yes, there is a chasm between you and me. It is a distance too far to cross and neither of us will give in. Our only recourse is to deal with it. Speak the ugly, difficult truth. Talk to one another. Listen!
It is only when we maintain these tricky lines of communication, these essential bonds of love, that we can begin to pull our two drifting sides back together. We can close the chasm that’s formed, not by violence, or belligerence, or denial, but through the hard work of love.
If we are committed to one another, to serving one another, to seeing and hearing each other as human beings – beloved children of God – then we can truly be about the business of making peace. Not a stalemate or a truce, but genuine community that’s won through the hard work of naming and facing our divisions.