Tag Archives: John 15:23

Did Jesus Come to Bring Peace?

Some people say that Jesus was a great teacher. Others say that he came to demonstrate love. These are true, but what did Jesus say? He stated, “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34 ESV) Isn’t this contradictory? What does this mean?

This certainly doesn’t sound like Joel Osteen’s namby pamby Jesus. The kind of sniveling god that wants our attention so badly, he grants us our best life now to buy our affection. I don’t know about you, but I have numerous difficulties in my life. I deal with chronic pain and will likely never see a pain-free day the remainder of my life. I’m not whining. I’m just stating a fact.

Everyday, people deal with suffering and loss. What about their best life? Is the six year old girl with leukemia living her best life now? I digress, but Osteen is selling people a false Jesus. Jesus is less concerned with your material wealth or physical health or comfort than he is with your soul. Jesus did not come to bring peace, but division. (Luke 12:51)

What is the cause of this division, anyway? Jesus once said, “Whoever hates me hates my Father as well.” (John 15:23 NIV) He said that after he told the disciples that the world will hate them. That really is the crux of the matter. Either you love Jesus and are in opposition to the world, or you belong to the world and hate Jesus.

I once belonged to the world. I was a pseudo-Christian, where I outwardly professed my faith (rather meekly in mixed company), but I lived as an atheist. Jesus had no impact on my life. As a matter of fact, I ridiculed real believers and denigrated God if it meant ratings. (I was a disc jockey at a rock station.) I clearly remember what I was like. I thought I could just wear the moniker and continue business as usual.

John 9:39 resonates with me. “Jesus said, ‘For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.'” I now realize that I was blind most of my life. I can also see many that profess their sight, when, in reality, they cannot. I’m reminded of the episode of House M.D. where Foreman contracts some crazy disease where he goes blind but his brain thinks he can see. Many think that they can see, but all they see is a poor facsimile of Jesus. Most notably, it’s Prosperity Jesus.

The whole idea of the cross seems ridiculous to unbelievers. 1 Corinthians 1:18 states, “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” This is something I can’t explain. I remember I mentally “accepted” Jesus, but my heart was dead. Only after I was broken both physically and spiritually could I understand what it meant to be saved. It is transformative. Jesus came not to bring peace, but to give life.

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Can You Be A Member of the Church Without Attending Church?

The world has an incredible hold on many who consider themselves Christians. Americans have been conditioned by the “ask Jesus into your heart” mantra. But is it biblical? Is it biblical to say a short prayer and check it off your bucket list? Did Jesus hang on the cross so we can whisper a prayer only to continue with our lives as if nothing ever happened?

A common argument for Christians and non-Christians alike is that attendance at a church is unnecessary for worship. I don’t disagree there. A church is merely a building, but the intent behind the argument is typically, “I worship in my own way and corporate worship is unprofitable because all churchgoers are hypocrites.”

We are hypocrites. So what? Paul, the chief of all sinners could have easily named himself the chief of all hypocrites as well. He states, “For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. (‭Romans‬ ‭7‬:‭15‬ ESV) If Paul was a hypocrite, should we be surprised that Christians today are hypocrites?

This is a good time to drag in the oft misquoted verse, “Judge not, that you be not judged.” (‭Matthew‬ ‭7‬:‭1‬ ESV) Did Jesus really mean that we are not to judge? Or was this verse meant for nonbelievers to lampoon believers? What is the context of this verse?

Context. That is what determines the meaning of everything. A statement without context is useless. Before I mention logs in people’s eyes, take note that calling me a hypocrite or telling me not to judge is a judgment statement in itself. If we are never to judge and I am in error for judging, shouldn’t you lead by example by not judging? Would the mere fact of not judging in fact be judging? We could debate the matter, but that would definitely be judging.

Jesus goes on to explain, “You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. (‭Matthew‬ ‭7‬:‭5‬ ESV) Jesus isn’t attacking people who judge, he is attacking those who judge with a hypocritical Pharisaical heart. If I am an alcoholic, who am I to tell others about temperance? We aren’t supposed to point out others’ sins when we are mired in those same sins. We are called to turn to Christ to overcome our sins.

The Church is the bride of Christ. If we despise the Church (the body of believers), how can we claim to love Christ? Similarly, John 15:23 is clear that if we hate the Son, we hate the Father as well. If a friend tells me that I am a swell guy but my wife is a shrew, is he really my friend? If someone hates my greatest treasure, my wife, then he hates me as well.

To hate the Church is to hate Christ.

I’ve also heard the tired retort, “Well, what about the Inquisition and the Crusades? The Church is evil!” I have had that same strawman tossed about by friends of mine. For good measure, they threw in some unintelligible redirect regarding the persecution of the Cathars and the Waldenses.

As far as I’m concerned, there are two points to address. One, if someone kills people in the name of Christ, they don’t know Christ. Secondly, the Inquisition is irrelevant to your salvation.

Jesus created the Church so that we can assemble with fellow believers and commune with Him. The Church with all of its human flaws is in place to glorify Christ. The Church is for the broken. The Church is for you and me.

Jesus died for our sins, yet some of us believe we can recite the Sinner’s Prayer and continue with our sinful lifestyles. I believe that is why so many reject the Church. Not because the Church is brimming with hypocrites, but because they are hypocrites themselves and refuse to turn from sin.

I’ve been there. I grew up in a “good Christian home.” I was raised Lutheran and was confirmed when I was thirteen. I had checked all the boxes. I was in the club. I had experimented with alcohol when I was a teenager, but that was only the beginning. When I was twenty-two, I could get in bars and I was a disc jockey at an active rock station. That was a terrible combination because I spent the next ten years or so in a boozy haze. I was saved. I could do what I wanted, right?

I never went to church because I didn’t want to be in the midst of hypocrites. I said I loved Jesus, but wanted nothing to do with Him. I wanted even less to do with his bride. While I was wallowing in my sin, Christ beckoned to me. Thanks to my wife and her incessant prayers, I was saved for real about five years ago.

I’m not the man I was five years ago. I eventually quit drinking and smoking and going to all bars. I’m even one of those hypocrites who goes to church every Sunday. I’m living proof that you cannot embrace Christ and remain unchanged.

Can you be a Christian without attending church? I believe the answer, at least on paper, is both. Jesus freed us from the chains of legalism so technically, I believe attendance is optional. I also believe Hebrews 10:25 commands the assembling of the saints. You can repudiate the church with all of your justifications, but Jesus’ response might be, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (‭Matthew‬ ‭7‬:‭23‬ ESV)