I don't know if you've ever come across those parts in the gospels where Jesus tells people that from now on families will be divided and such, but it's a bit alarming. I mean, Jesus is the guy who is supposed to redeem everything and bring it all back together. Then He goes on to say that he hasn't come to bring peace, but division. Not the stuff that sells Jesus' message very well.
But it's there. In the Bible, God's Word.
Lately I've been reading a book for review that applies to this, I think. I'm not done with it yet, but it's called This Beautiful Mess by Rick McKinley. The subtitle gives further insight into it's theme: "Practicing the Presence of the Kingdom of God."
The Kingdom of God is central to Jesus' Mission. Throughout the gospels, they tell us that Jesus came to preach repentance and the good news of the Kingdom of God. And Jesus tells us in many parables and lessons that the Kingdom of God is here amongst us now. But it's also not here fully yet. It's a paradox of existence.
But when we learn to live in that tension of paradox, we get it. Most of us, though, tend to see only one part of the Kingdom. We may be focused on what is yet to come, but miss out on it's presence here now. Or vice versa. But then we tend to be focused on personal piety, but not issues of justice. Or we may be into stewardship, but not focus well on discipleship. But it's both. Now and not yet.
And I think that the Kingdom is why Jesus says families will be divided. The Kingdom, by nature, is divisive. It separates the things of Heaven from the things of this world. Jesus makes it clear that we can't love the things of this world more than the things of Heaven. And not everyone gets that. It's also a threat to some, which creates more division.
So what's it mean for me? What do I need to take away from this passage? That's always the question at hand with reading the Bible isn't it? (Thought often we need to switch "me" with a communal "us.")
I can easily worry too much about what others think about me and try to please them and keep myself in good terms with them. I need to realize that following Jesus will not always put me in the good graces of others, but that doesn't matter. I am to love others, but not cater to their perception of who I should be.
I also need to hold the tension of the Now and Not Yet Kingdom. I need to pay attention to the Kingdom of God at work around me and join in it bringing justice and hope. I need to keep myself focused on following Jesus as no one knows when He will return.
So peace be with you. Now...and not yet.