Truth Divides & UnitesNovember 6, 2018 Acts
If you take the time to study the teaching of Jesus that is recorded in scripture, you will inevitably encounter something that he said that will leave you scratching your head. Cody touched on one of the "hard sayings" of Jesus in this week's lesson when he referenced Jesus' teaching in Matthew chapter 10. Starting in verse 34, listen to what he says:
"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."
Isn't this strange coming from someone who's given the name, Prince of Peace? Doesn't the Apostle Paul write on numerous occasions to encourage the early churches to be unified IN CHRIST? This seems to go against everything we are trained to think and believe about Jesus.
However, throughout the book of Acts, we have studied how, time and again, the message of Jesus causes division. In fact, as Cody rightly pointed out to us in his message, "truth always divides." Regardless of what you believe, there will always be people out there who think and believe differently. Furthermore, truth claims inherently demand a verdict. They are either true or untrue...and we must make a choice.
The Gospel is the great winnowing fork of human history. John the Baptist uses the same analogy for the coming Messiah. In Matthew 3:12 he says, "His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
We, as human beings, are prone to gravitate towards what we know and what is comfortable. We naturally tend to segregate ourselves into groupings of people like us. Maybe they look like us, dress like us, talk like us, enjoy the same things we enjoy, or do the same thing we do for a living. Maybe they are smart like us, or artsy like us, or rich like us, or poor like us. There are a million and one things that divide us, but one transcends them all. Are you a follower of Jesus...or aren't you? It is your belief concerning the message of the Gospel that decides. And which side of the dividing line you find yourself on has eternal significance.
At the same time, and in some strangely paradoxical way, the Gospel also unifies. True indeed, the Gospel separates the sheep from the goats. However, among those who have been impacted by its life-changing power, it breaks down all of the walls that formerly kept us apart. For those who are in Christ, those million and one distinguishing markers that divide us into our little bubbles of comfort are wiped clean. Paul states it succinctly in Galatians 3:28 where he writes, "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."
It is by the saving power of the Gospel that we as believers are set apart from the world. At the same time, it is our shared hope in the Gospel that unites us together as brothers and sisters in Christ. This is what the Gospel does...100% of the time.
If you missed this week's sermon (or just want to listen again), follow the link below to listen. Or subscribe to our podcast in iTunes.
Part 32 - Zeus & Hermes Preach The Gospel
Questions discussed in this sermon:
1. How did Paul determine when to stay or go when facing opposition?
2. Is it ever ok to be divisive?
3. How did Paul respond to people who disagreed with him?