Faith-Life Brings Division in this World of Falsehood
These are the readings for the Thirteenth Sunday after Pentecost.
God’s Word for This Week
“Can’t we all just get along?” Many people feel that way, especially in religious matters. That sentiment usually pairs up with the idea that “no one has a monopoly on the truth.” People claim (absolutely—see the irony?) that truth is relative. Jesus says otherwise: No truth conflicts with him and his Word. As followers of Jesus, we stand firmly with him, though such a stance will certainly divide us from all who follow lies.
Traditional First Lesson – Jeremiah 23:23-29
With whom is the Lord disgusted in these verses?
The Lord is disgusted with the false prophets who are teaching falsehoods in his name. He doesn’t put up with any error whatsoever, but he is especially angry when people use his name to promote and defend their errors.
How does the Lord describe his Word in verse 29? Why does he describe it this way?
The Lord says that his Word is like a fire and a hammer. It stands in total opposition to falsehood and ultimately destroys it. God does not permit a mixing of the truth of his Word with human lies; neither should we.
Supplemental First Lesson – 2 Kings 11:1-3, 12-18
How bad did things get in Judah after Ahaziah died and his mother Athaliah reigned?
Things got so bad that Athaliah tried to murder the whole royal family. Jehosheba, the aunt of the future king, managed to hide baby Joash and his nurse in a bedroom. For six years they stayed hidden at the temple in Jerusalem.
Could people on God’s side compromise with Athaliah? No way! What resulted, therefore?
Athaliah was killed; and seven-year-old Joash became king.
Traditional Second Lesson – Hebrews 12:1-13
What can we expect in this world if we stand on the truth of God’s Word?
Just like Jesus, we can expect to face persecution and hatred. Jesus said, “If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first” (John 15:18).
How does the writer to Hebrews explain the hardship that we will endure for standing on the truth of God’s Word in this world?
He says that such hardship is loving “discipline” by our heavenly Father. While such discipline might at first seem painful, it has eternal benefits as we submit to the Lord’s loving guidance. (See 12:11.)
Supplemental Second Lesson – Ephesians 6:10-20
We are at war but not against ourselves or against other people. With whom are we at war?
We are at war against the devil and his well-organized army of demons.
How do we arm ourselves for this war?
We arm ourselves for this war by putting on the full armor of God, so we can take our stand against Satan and his schemes. We also pray in the Spirit for ourselves and for all God’s saints on earth.
Gospel – Luke 12:49-53
What misperception do many people have about Jesus and his work?
Many people think that Jesus came to bring worldly peace and social justice. Instead, Jesus points out in these verses that he and his teachings divide people into those who trust and worship him and those who don’t.
Jesus is called the “Prince of Peace” in Isaiah 9. Why would he say that he did not come to bring peace?
Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and he did come to bring peace—but not worldly peace. Instead, Jesus came to bring peace between sinful human beings and his holy, heavenly Father; and through his life, death, and resurrection he has done just that. (See Romans 5:1.)
Why are Jesus and his teaching so divisive in our world?
Jesus and his teaching are divisive, since he proclaims absolute truth. In fact, he is the absolute Truth. (See John 14:6.) In a world filled with false ideas about “relative truth,” Jesus boldly states that we must either be for him or against him. (See Luke 11:23.) Either he is our Lord, or he is not. Neutrality is impossible. So there are two kinds of people worldwide. Families divide over Jesus too, as Christians find themselves needing to speak the truth in love and to reject all falsehood. (On the impossibility of compromise: see 2 Corinthians 6:12–7:1.)