Skip to content

“I Have Not Come to Bring Peace”

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace but a sword.

Matthew 10:34

This statement seems a bit odd coming from the Prince of Peace, right? After all, Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” And he lamented that Israel did not know the way of peace (Luke 19:41-44). Speaking of swords, Jesus told his disciples that two would be enough for twelve, but then he turned around and told Peter he better not use his (Matthew 26:52).

So what’s going on here? Let’s read the whole paragraph:

Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me.

Matthew 10:34-38

Jesus isn’t denying that he is the Prince of Peace or that he offers a peace that passes understanding, and Jesus isn’t giving us a license to be rude or impatient with those who disagree with us. Instead, Jesus is making an observation that he picked up on very early in his ministry: a prophet has no honor in his hometown (Luke 4:24).

When we accept the gospel of Jesus, whether we know it or not, we are accepting the call of Abraham: to leave behind father and mother and to travel towards a country that only God can show us. This calling is inherently divisive because it means that we must give up the conventional wisdom we were raised with, the wisdom of the world, and the embrace the wisdom from above.

What’s scary about this is that if we truly begin to let go of the ways of our forefathers and embrace the Way of Jesus, we may find ourselves moving further and further away from our heritage. For some, this means abandoning worldliness and destructive habits. For others, this means abandoning systems of legalism which paint a false picture of Jesus. And still for others, this may mean giving up a watered-down form of Christianity that doesn’t demand radical self-denial, sacrifice, and transformation.

Now, hopefully, we are able to walk beside our parents on this journey, but even if they follow the same trajectory as ourselves, we must still “abandon” them in some sense. That is, we must resolve to follow the Way of Christ regardless of what temporal relationships we might lose.

Knowing this doesn’t make it easy. Remembering that Jesus went through the same thing helps, but it still doesn’t make it easy (John 7:1-5). But acknowledging and accepting the reality is part of being a Christian.

This doesn’t mean that we are to seek division from our family, even if we have an unbelieving spouse (1 Corinthians 7:13). But we shouldn’t be surprised if they no longer accept us when we commit to following Jesus no matter what.

Now, here’s an inconvenient truth: just because you are rejected by your family doesn’t mean you are in the right. Some Christians look at passages like this and use rejection or persecution as a way to validate themselves. “Well, I’m being persecuted, so I must be on to something.” Not necessarily. You could be wrong, and you might even be a bit of a jerk.

So, this path calls for humility, self-examination, and lots of prayer.

Experiencing these divisions is painful. Experiencing them in vain is even more painful. So, if you feel a split coming, take time to pray, read Scripture, seek counsel from an objective third party, and maybe even spend time reflecting on your motives. In the end, what you have to do is follow Jesus the best way you know how… even if you end up realizing you were wrong later. Right now, the best thing you can do is follow your conscience and stand by your convictions. Being in the minority doesn’t make you right just because “few there be that find it,” but being in the minority also doesn’t make you wrong.

So, don’t seek divisions, but don’t back away from them either if it means following God to the best of your abilities. If you believe the path you’re going down is the best for you, your family, your neighbor, and your enemies, then follow it wherever it leads. Be like Abraham and accept the call into the far country, trusting that God will lead you safely there.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.