Words that fight for peace

“Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before others, I will disown before my Father in heaven. Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:32-34

Joel C. Seifert

They seem like fighting words. Jesus calls us to speak his truth faithfully, and he says when we do so, it’ll bring a sword. Jesus doesn’t hide what faithful witnessing brings. Those who speak his words will be imprisoned and punished. The words they speak will bring strife into their family life and hatred from the world.

This probably doesn’t surprise you. The world Jesus sends us into so often sees God’s will for our lives as out-of-date—or even threatening. Those who hold to a biblical worldview of creation are publicly mocked. So many even in the visible church oppose those who hold to the teachings of Scripture. We have a lot to fight against, don’t we?

Christians are for Christ

Christ sent the disciples out with a simple task: “Proclaim this message, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near’ ” (10:7). They weren’t sent out to eradicate sin or reform society. Jesus didn’t call them to erase divisions in the visible church and drive out false teachers. The purpose of the church isn’t to defeat those evils; they’ll exist until the end of time.

God calls us to proclaim his kingdom. Matthew chapter 10 is a list of the challenges that will simply be there when we go about our work. But that doesn’t mean we’re on the defensive. We have a different strategy. We share the news of a Savior who doesn’t promise an immediate fix for a sinful world but forgiveness and salvation for the sinners in it.

Christ is for Christians

But as we do that, Jesus says it will bring trouble, even in our families. It will bring a cross. Are we attacked? Is our faith mocked? Our natural reaction is to respond with fear or anger, but we don’t need to. Jesus has won the victory. Christ is for us.

Do you see the freedom those words bring? It’s an easy temptation to see yourself as on the defensive—a victim in a culture war against Christian values. And that makes it all the more tempting to lash out in kind: to mock, to accuse, to insult. But dear Christian, Christ has won for you. So, follow him. Proclaim his kingdom with kindness, love, and respect. Will you be attacked? Of course! The world attacked Jesus too. But Christ is for you, so follow him as you speak the truth in love.

At the end of June, the church remembers the Presentation of the Augsburg Confession. It’s one of the foundational confessions of the Lutheran church. It was delivered by Lutheran princes and laymen to Emperor Charles V on June 25, 1530. Because they held to God’s Word, they were condemned and threatened by their emperor with loss of land, wealth, and even life. Consider reading the Augsburg Confession this month. You’ll find in its pages a wonderful confession of the truths of Scripture in the face of false teaching. And with that, you’ll find something else beautiful: the entire confession is filled with humility; respect; and Christian love, even as its writers faced punishment or war. They weren’t afraid; they knew Christ was for them. And they let their words and actions speak clearly: They were for Christ


Contributing editor Joel Seifert is pastor at Beautiful Savior, Marietta, Georgia.


 

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Author: Joel C. Seifert
Volume 105, Number 6
Issue: June 2018

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