An Olive Branch and A Sword

Has anyone else had a rough week with what’s going on in the world? Has the joy stemming from the overturn of Roe V Wade dimmed in the massive shadow of division and hate spewing from one corner to the other? There is one side beaming in arrogance while another cowers in fear and drowns in hatred. Regardless of how you feel about this issue, the sheer magnitude of cultural division should wound you. Conversations are becoming harder and harder to have and I’ll admit it’s getting hard to reconcile our culture to the life God called us to live.

Christians are starting to become the bad guys. Peace is becoming a rare commodity. The wheat is beginning to be separated from the tares and we are starting to be tested and refined. Because for the first time in most of our lives’, our beliefs are starting to cost us something.

Let me tell you 2 verses that have always confused me in the Bible.

We’ve got John 14:27 on one side and Matthew 10:34 on the other.

John says: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

Then we’ve got Matthew saying things such as: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.”

Okay, Lord. So which is it? Did you come to bring peace like You said, or did you come to bring a sword and divide people like You said?

Spoiler: it’s both.

First, whenever you’re looking at Scripture you’ve got to take in context. Who was Jesus talking to and why?

In both of these instances, He is talking to His disciples. I know, that clears up a lot, right?

I think what we need to notice here are the words “the earth.” Jesus did not come to bring peace to the world, to make us all live in harmony and complete acceptance of one another. In fact, the very nature of Christianity states otherwise. Like, what about the whole “die to yourself” thing is easy to swallow? It’s not. Admitting that there is nothing in your natural state that is good? Not an easy pill. It’s these types of statements that divide and anger those who are enemies of God. Along with a plethora of others that we see on a daily basis thanks to social media.

This kind of narrative in a world that says you can have it all is going to ruffle some feathers. It’s going to be hard to accept. It will be taken personally.

However, in this massive brush stroke of division, there’s a caveat. It’s you and me. While in the world we will suffer through persecutions and trials and at least very uncomfortable relationships, our sweet Jesus left us with a promise of peace. Not just any peace like the world promises (safe, calm, and even keel) but a peace like only He could give. A peace in the spirit. A peace of mind. The Lord didn’t promise a peace of circumstance but rather a peace of the heart. So that no matter how you are afflicted from outside sources, you can always come back to center and to the inner peace of knowing there is a God smiling down on you. Delighting in you.

Even when this love costs you everything.

Even when God calls you to forsake things very close to you for the sake of the Kingdom.

Even when the Gospel drives friends away from you.

Even when we disagree on issues and struggle to reconcile.

We can rest, undisturbed in our faith because we have that peace from the Lord. Knowing that at the end of the day we are His.

We can lift calloused, weary hands and praise the One who has wounded hands of His own and know that He understands.

We can lift tear-stained cheeks toward the One who wept.

We can lift hurting hearts to the One whose heart was burdened and broken on our behalf.

His love is warm, complete, steady, and constant.

But it isn’t safe.

When the Lamb that was slain returns as the Lion of Judah to reclaim the earth, may we be found at peace. May we be found going about our Father’s business.

May we have a sword in one hand and an olive branch in the other.

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