Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
In Luke 12:49-56 Jesus delivers a scathing rebuke of our unwillingness or inability to get a grip on reality. He brings division on the earth (vv. 51-53) because of his very identity. Either we will believe on him, lock stock and barrel, or we will not. We cannot pick and choose parts. Jesus is Lord or he is not. There’s no halfway. It’s a divisive thing. As long as there have been Christians, they have been shunned by family members who oppose the Christian faith. Less frequently, Christians have cast out family members who do not believe, though the New Testament teaches against doing so. There is division. The Lord makes distinctions.
What is amazing here is that the people who are around Jesus would not recognize this work of division. In verses 54-56, Jesus objects to the crowds’ ready understanding of their natural world but the simultaneous failure to grasp the things of God’s kingdom. It is inconceivable that we should be completely familiar with the environment, sports, politics, and entertainment but that we should have no grasp of Jesus and his work. How does this happen?
I recently listened to some re-posted podcasts from several years ago, in which several theologials were discussing youth culture within Christianity. Their observation was that when teens are taught how to take Christianity seriously and to give an answer for the Christian faith, they become remarkably secure and persuasive. When teens are shown that their interest in Christianity should be based on emotive worship experiences, they are easily persuaded that Christianity doesn’t matter. Sadly, we have one or two generations of Christians who do not seem ready to defend their Christian faith. The older generation, raised on feelings, has raised up the latest generation, telling them to look within and trust their hearts. This is destructive.
We teach high school students to do incredibly complex mathematical work, scientific experiments, and engineering tasks which frankly boggle my mind. Why do we assume that these same intelligent high schoolers are incapable of understanding literature and philosophy in general, and specifically Christianity? This is precisely what Jesus is condemning in this passage.
Together, we can recapture a cultural understanding of Christ for sinners, of a creative and redemptive God who has revealed himself in the Scripture, texts which have stood the test of time and intensive inquiry. Together we can help young and old alike to discover the riches of God’s grace and mercy, spelled out in very particular ways. Together we can seek to trust the very real facts of Jesus’ promised birth, sinless life, death, and resurrection, all for us. It’s time we looked to Jesus.
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