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.