“Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division.” – Luke 12:51
Whenever you stand for something or believe in a certain worldview, you are going to face opposition. There’s no way to avoid it. The same is true when it comes to your decision to follow the teachings of Jesus. Jesus does not intentionally want to bring division, yet he knows the truth that he preaches will bring division. It’s a statement of fact rather that one of intention. The truth that Jesus brings will offer peace while causing division.
The above verse leaves some Christians confused. After all, many Bible verses refer to Christ as “our peace” (Ephesians 2:14-16). Isaiah when prophesied the birth of Christ, the Messiah, he called him “Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6). The book of Revelation teaches us that Christ will return to bring peace on earth (Revelation 20, 21, 22).
To anyone that has a sense of discernment, division is happening all around the world: protests in Hong Kong, France, and other countries; division between believers and nonbelievers, persecution, slaughtering, and even significant divisions within churches such as the recent turmoil in the United Methodist Church.
In the United States, political divisions appear to be at an all-time high, not only sparking differences of opinion but downright hate that has led to mass shootings. The division in the world is growing. Jesus’ words are prophetic and one only needs to read the daily news reports to find overwhelming proof.
Leading the Angelus from the window of his studio overlooking Saint Peter’s Square at the Vatican on August 18, Pope Francis read from Luke 12:49-53.
“I have come to ignite a fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but division.
From now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” –Luke 12:49-53
“In this respect, he has come to ‘divide,’ to spark a ‘crisis’ – in a healthy way,” the Pope said, “in the life of his disciples, shattering the simple illusions of those who believe they can combine Christian life and worldliness, Christian life and compromises of all kinds, religious practices and attitudes against one’s neighbor.”
The Pope further explained what Jesus’ words meant, by pointing out the Christian hypocrisy that is rampant in the world today.
“It is about living not like a hypocrite, but by being willing to pay the price,” the Pope said, adding that people need to ensure the choices they make are consistent with the Gospel.
“It’s nice to call oneself a Christian, but it demands, above all, being Christians in concrete situations,” the Pope continued, saying that people need to advocate Christianity by “giving witness to the Gospel, which essentially is love for God and for one’s brothers and sisters.”
The Pope encouraged people to live the spirit of the Gospels by committing acts of charity and serving others. There are so many new needs with new forms of charity the Pope added.