At this time of the year we hear people saying, “Peace on earth” for this is part of the Christmas message. When Jesus was born, which by the way could not have been on 25th December…but that’s a discussion for another day, the angels appeared to shepherds saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!” (Luke 2:14) But Jesus gives us something more to think aboutthat would no doubt surprise the Christmas well wishers. Jesus polarises people.
No Peace on Earth
Jesus said in this section of scripture, “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” (Verse 51)
Now division does not sound very peaceful. And when he explains this further we see that these divisions will be in a persons own household with one part of the family divided against the others. And I don’t know about you, but the worst kind of upset that can happen is when there is trouble in your own house because there is no escaping it.
So what did Jesus mean by this and why do people say at Christmas that there will be peace on earth when clearly that is not the case?
Jesus will Polarise People
First we need to look at the scripture from which the Christmas message is taken. Typically people will quote the first bit but not the second. They will say, “Peace on earth” but then ignore the bit that says, “…among men with whom he is pleased!” It is those who please the Lord that will receive his peace. It is by following the teachings of the Lord that people find the pathway to peace that only comes from knowing and trusting in Jesus.
So what about the other scripture where Jesus said he has come to bring division? Well when anyone holds a belief in anything and another person does not hold that belief there is division. Look at any football crowd and you will see that division. Then consider over the centuries how religion has polarised people.
There is a war going on in the spiritual realm with the forces of good pitted against the forces of evil. And this battle that is raging is raging over the control of mankind. We are the battleground of this spiritual war.
So we have a situation in religion where there are two opposing forces, one for good and one for evil. Can they co-exist in peace with each other? No way. Can oil exist and mix with water? Neither can the forces of good and evil co-exist together. There is a natural division between the two and one will win out over the other.
Thus if we have in a family setting as described in this scripture, where some are believers and some are not, or where some are the people of God and others are not, there will be a division. The Lord makes it quite clear too that there is no sitting on the fence. You are either with him or against him, and those against him will be divided and separated from those who are with him.
So in relation to this scripture as Christians we need to understand that while peace is attainable and achievable, it is not necessarily on offer to all mankind as the Christmas message might suggest. Peace must be pursued, as Peter wrote, “…let him seek peace and pursue it.” (1 Peter 3:11)
Peace may be given as a gift from the Lord to those who please him, but because of the divisions between man it needs to be contended for. You will need to fight for peace for their are enemies against peace both in the physical and spiritual realms.
We are fortunate that even though the Lord showed us that there would be division, in him there is peace and the way to life. So if you truly seek peace, pursue it through Jesus and you will find it.
(Photo provided by stock.xchng www.sxc.hu/ taken by Teodora Vlaicu)