Summary: Christ is not safe, but he is good.
Scripture – Matthew 10:32-42
Sermon – “Is He Safe?”
I heard some disturbing news this past week. There’s really nothing wrong with it, but I thought that I’d never see the day when what I’m about to say would happen. It seems that people have not learned from the past, and when we fail to learn from the past, we’re doomed to repeat history! The news came from one of those late night 24 hour news channels.
It has been reported that we’re now engaged in what this reporter called “World War III.” It seems that the world is at war, and there’s little if any peace to be found. There’s war everywhere. If ever there’s a time for the Prince of Peace to make his presence known, now would be a good time!
Yet how contradictory this morning’s passage seems to be when we see it in the light of the angels’ message to the shepherds on the hills outside Bethlehem; the message of “Peace on earth!” When Jesus tells us, “Do you think I came to bring peace? Boy, do you have it wrong! I’m not bringing peace. I’m bringing a sword that will divide, decide, determine, and discover the cost of discipleship!”
1. The Sword of Division – “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For 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.’
Drawing from prophecies such as Hosea 11:10, “They will follow the LORD; he will roar like a lion…” C.S. Lewis portrayed the Christ-figure in his “Chronicles of Narnia” as a lion with a horrific roar. As she was about to meet Aslan, the Lion of Narnia, Lucy asked Mr. Beaver, “Is he safe?” and Mr. Beaver replied, “’Course he isn’t safe. But he is good.”
But we’re having a problem with Christianity in the American church. Too many people want to hear of a “safe Jesus” and there are too many preachers ready and willing to preach it. In a church filled with pussy cat Christians a dangerous lion of a Christ doesn’t fit in the theology and it certainly won’t fill the pews on Sunday mornings! When a church wants to hear what their own itching ears want to hear and hear nothing else, a dangerous lion-Christ just doesn’t fit in.
Too much of the American church wants to cuddle up into the soft fur of Christ without paying attention to the fact that he brings a sword of division.
In our last church there was a young lady who was one of our members. She worked with another young lady of the Sikh religion from Punjab in India. Our young lady introduced the other to a life in Christ. The other lady had never heard such good news. While she had been taught that faith was a matter of strenuous works she was introduced to a faith based on grace. She loved the thought of that. There was one problem, though, she would have to tell her husband that she was ready to accept Christ’s free offer of grace but his family with whom she lived would never go for it. The division would be too great. She just couldn’t do it. Christ divides.
There will always be those who answer God’s call to repentance and there will always be those who refuse to accept his challenge. When people are confronted with the Gospel there is a necessity to either accept it or reject it and the world is divided between those who have and those who have not accepted the rule of Christ, the Lion of Judah.
With Christ we are thrown into the great spiritual battle and it is too often true that the fiercest foes are those within families! With the message of peace between God and his creatures Christ brings the sword of division.
The message of peace also brings with it: 2. The Sword of Decision – “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me…”
The matter of the involvement of decision within the life of the believer has long been a contested battle between Calvinists and the “it’s-all-up-to-God” Camp and Arminians and the “it’s-all-up-to-Man” camp.
I remember as a young boy when my mother who loved Billy Graham and all of his crusades sent for and received the “Decision” Magazine. She would read it from cover to cover. When she once brought up something that was written in “Decision” our pastor said, “Now, Gert, that’s not a very good magazine for Christian Reformed people to read! It’s not up to us to decide, it’s up to God to convict!” She still loved the magazine and she still read it from cover to cover!