Summary: Deciding to follow Christ is a discerning decision, but depending on our circumstances, it may also be a difficult and divisive decision.
Title: Is Jesus Divisive?
Text: Luke 12:49-56
Thesis: Deciding to follow Christ is discerning decision, but depending on our circumstances, it may also be a difficult and divisive decision.
Ancient Greek Philosopher Democritus was cited for having said, “Creatures flock together with their kind…” in 460 B.C. Today the popular idiom is simply, “Birds of a feather flock together and they do… as do we. When people gather in groups there is almost always an element of homogeneity involved. They have similar lifestyles, hobbies, interests, persuasions, race or ethnicity, socio-economic status, etc.
Perhaps the most obvious examples of like-mindedness in our country would be the Democratic and Republican National Conventions. Here in Denver the spectator bleachers at Dove Valley during Bronco preseason preparations is where the most die-hard fans gather in anticipation of winning the Super Bowl this year. Red Rocks is the place concert-goers pack out when their favorite band comes to town. And unfortunately, it may be said of churches as well.
A month ago or so Egyptians for the ouster of President Mohammed Morsi packed the streets. Today Egyptians for the reinstatement of Mohammed Morsi have risen up in violent protest. The Muslim Brotherhood has turned its anger against Coptic Christians because the leader of the largest Coptic Church in Egypt expressed his support for the military coup that ousted the countries first Islamist president. Before that he had openly supported Morsi’s opponent in the presidential elections. (Probably an example of why religious leaders need to stick with what they know and do best.) However given the ongoing anti-Christian sentiment in Egypt was already smoldering before this latest spark that renewed tensions.
This latest spate of anti-Christian violence is just that, the latest. The Coptic Christians are a significant but non-the-less minority in Egypt… they make up about 10% of the population. However you cut it… religion and politics in Egypt are volatile subjects.
In a 2008 Addeco survey, 1,807 U.S. workers were asked to identify issues they felt were off-limits for discussion at work. Here are the top five responses: Religion topped the list at 29% and Politics was fourth at 14%. (Jae Yang and Veronica Salazar, "What Is the Most Taboo Topic to Discuss at Work?" USA Today (6-17-08); submitted by Van Morris, Mount Washington, Kentucky)
Religion and politics are divisive. I’ve found that I may find some people personally likable but unlikable politically or religiously. So we have another popular idiom we cite to keep things civil: “Never discuss religion or politics in polite company [because it is divisive].”
A decision to become a follower of Christ seems at first to be more determinative than divisive.
I. I. A decision to follow Christ accepts Christ as one’s Savior while a decision to not follow Christ rejects Christ as one’s Savior.
“I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished.” Luke 12:49-50
When we unpack what it means to receive the grace of God in Christ and become a follower of Christ, we understand that such a decision is a change of direction. Becoming a follower of Christ is a turning from one’s sin and self, to serve Christ. But why should that be a problem to anyone? No one is being forced to follow Christ. However, a decision to become a follower of Christ is a watershed moment.
When Bonnie and I first moved here, Bonnie’s parents came to visit us. We took a day-trip and drove Trail Ridge Road up to the Continental Divide. One of my favorite memories of that day is watching Mom Payne charging off up a little embankment to the Continental Divide sign, wading through deep snow, falling down, getting up and declaring, “I did not come all this way to not get a picture!”
The Continental Divide is what we call a watershed… a watershed is a drainage divide. There are watersheds everywhere and as such they form a divide that determines which way water will flow. The Continental Divide extends north and south through the United States, Canada and Alaska. Here in Colorado, as a watershed, water flows west from the Continental Divide toward the Pacific Ocean or east toward the Atlantic Ocean. In Alaska water either flows west toward the Pacific or east toward the Arctic Ocean.
When a person becomes a follower of Christ his or her life flows toward Christ and follows the course, so to speak, that Christ sets. When a person opts to not follow Christ, his or her life flows in the opposite direction.
The bible says that when one’s life flows with Christ it leads to everlasting life with God and when one’s life flows in the opposite direction it leads to eternal separation from God.