Is conflict always avoidable? Is conflict always a sign of failure? Can good come from conflict? Let’s see how conflict is part of the Gospel message in Luke 12:49-56.
Fire & Division
Luke 12:49-51 “I have come to set the world on fire, and I wish it were already burning! 50 I have a terrible baptism of suffering ahead of me, and I am under a heavy burden until it is accomplished. 51 Do you think I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I have come to divide people against each other!
Jesus came to set the world ablaze with the fire of division. Peace on earth is in the hearts of men as a gift of the Holy Spirit, but not yet between all people. He will bring about world peace at His return. Until then, loving Jesus will bring conflict.
Literally, Jesus brought division. He endured suffering, analogous to a baptism, because of that division. That division was analogous to fire. Morally, if we have no church conflict, we should ask if we really follow Jesus. Prophetically, we should not be shocked by the division that comes with following Christ.
Naïve Christians are shocked by it. Older Christians try to avoid it. But, division is unavoidable. We should not be shocked. Christianity sometimes causes family problems. Like fire purifies metals, conflict can purify us. A Christian who has survived many battles is more mature than one who has been overprotected.
Luke 12:52-53 From now on families will be split apart, three in favor of me, and two against—or two in favor and three against. 53 ‘Father will be divided against son and son against father; mother against daughter and daughter against mother; and mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.’”
The description of family division is two-fold. Some say two against three and three pairs against one pair. Who is the cause of these family splits? Jesus takes the blame. His message can divide families. Jesus takes the blame for family division over Him. Some believe and others do not.
Literally, Jesus predicts family conflict over Him. Analogously, the whole world will divide into two camps, those for and against Christ. Morally, the family unity of Malachi 4:6 only applies to those who follow Jesus? Prophetically, this foreshadows the great division that will take place in eternity between heaven and hell.
A naturalist once slit a cocoon open. The butterfly emerged weak and unable to fly. If we pamper our children, they can grow up weak. Nations often become great after generations of struggle, then their descendants begin to live in luxury and the whole civilization declines. Struggle makes us strong.
Luke 12:54-56 Then Jesus turned to the crowd and said, “When you see clouds beginning to form in the west, you say, ‘Here comes a shower.’ And you are right. 55 When the south wind blows, you say, ‘Today will be a scorcher.’ And it is. 56 You fools! You know how to interpret the weather signs of the earth and sky, but you don’t know how to interpret the present times.
The people cannot interpret the times. They don’t see the nearness of the kingdom of heaven. In that part of the world, a cloud rising from the west, the Mediterranean, could indicate rain. Morning wind from the south, from the desert, would indicate a hot day. Yet, they could not or pretended not to see the signs of the kingdom.
Literally, Jesus calls the crowd hypocrites. By analogy, would many of them divide themselves from the faithful? Morally, does the strong word hypocrite seem to place the blame on them for unwillingness to discern the signs of the times? Prophetically, does Jesus call those who refuse to acknowledge Him, culpable?
In times of church or family conflict, let's realize it may indicate the Gospel's success. Good can come from conflict. Jesus predicted that we would have divisions among us because of Him. When conflict comes, let’s patiently look to God to see us victoriously through.
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.