November 22, 2019

Peace on Earth?

Luke 12:49-53

“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth?”

—  Luke 12:51

Have you heard the story about Jesus’ birth and how the angels came to celebrate it? In Luke 2:13-14 we read, “Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared . . . praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.’”

But in our reading today we find Jesus himself asking, “Do you think I came to bring peace on earth?” And he answers, “No, I tell you, but division.”

Here Jesus is prodding his followers to think; he wants them to consider carefully what it means to commit their lives to him.

As we think about this, Jesus does seem to bring division. That’s because the good news of salvation and the rule of God’s kingdom will bring resistance in this world. Sadly, there will be some people who do not want to believe in God and do not want their hearts changed. Here Jesus warns of family divisions, and many of us know how those can happen because of belief in Jesus.

Jesus warns what will happen, not what he wills to happen. As we experience the love of God in Christ, from which nothing and no one can separate us (Romans 8:38-39), all other relationships take second place. In Jesus we find that we have peace with God (Romans 5:1-8); through Christ, God’s favor rests on us. Do you know Jesus? Then you know that peace.

Lord, help us to rest in your peace today so that we might help others find peace with you too in this troubled world. In your name we pray. Amen.

About the author — Norman F. Brown

Chaplain Norman F. Brown graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, in 1969. He served aboard destroyers during the Vietnam conflict and ashore in San Diego, Calif., as an instructor. By then God had made clear his call to work in pastoral ministry, and Norman entered Calvin Theological Seminary, graduating in 1980. Chaplain Brown pastored churches during his ministry career but spent most of his time as a navy chaplain. During one assignment he served three years at Holy Loch, Scotland, where he and his wife, Ruth, encountered the Iona Community and their emphasis on spiritual disciplines. Chaplain and Mrs. Brown have three married children and nine grandchildren.

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