Peaceful Restlessness

“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34 )

I have been restless that past week or two. Sort of a “burr under my saddle blanket” or an itchiness between my shoulder blades. A grittiness under my skin, and at times I have just been miserable with it. It comes, I know, from feeling like I should be doing something with my life, but not quite sure what to do. I am being called to something, but I am not sure what. Until I know for sure, I will continue to be restless and seeking for what I should be doing.

Jesus said he did not come to call people to complacency, but to action. This action will irritate some and cause ill-humor within families. And at times it might divide families. As Christians who have grown up in Christian families, we may find this hard to understand. But I am sure for some families their Christian faith is a dividing point.

My restless has been for a good purpose. In order to find relief I write these commentaries. (Yes, this is why I sat down to write this one.) And I keep myself open to the calling of God and opportunities to further what understand and learn what I may be called to. Much of the music I have been listening to reflects the need and desire to understand what God has in mind and planned for me. While it feeds my restlessness, it also soothes me to know that I have not closed my ears to God’s call.

In this way it is a peaceful restlessness; because I know I will keep journeying where God’s calls me to, never resting. And I am at peace because God journeys with me. May you gentle reader journey with God in peace also, never resting until God calls you home. Selah!

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The sword of Jesus

Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword.  (Matthew 10:34)

Sigh.

What could Jesus, who said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” mean by this?

Just maybe Jesus doesn’t come as a peacemaker for “the world,” for the world’s system, but to set up a kingdom (a peaceable kingdom) opposed to the world’s system. His attempt to set up such a kingdom got him killed, of course, as he accepted a death on the cross so that we might have peace with God and peace with one another within that kingdom. The world split off, divided from God; the world chose violence, and Jesus chose the death of a sacrifice.

Just maybe this means we need to spread this gospel of peace as an invitation to join in a community a peace. We arrive not as negotiators, but as welcomers; as land agents for the land of peace. At times, we will fail (miserably) to keep Jesus’s peace within our communities. At times, the world systems will hate us, and bring a sword; which, in some sense, is Jesus’s sword, “for it has been granted to [us] on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him  (Philippians 1:29),” as our passage from yesterday said.

So perhaps it is a good thing (like a good painting, or a well-written computer program, or a good diagnosis, or a well-tilled field) to be peacemakers in the world; perhaps our peaceful practices (when done well) can give us the training and experience we need. But if it is this (and this is truly a good thing), perhaps it is no more than this. And these efforts, as temporary as a painting or computer program or health or a season’s crops, will, at the end, fail–although peace is itself a good thing.

But I am unwise, and desire to understand better. Dear wiser Anabaptist brothers and sisters: What do you know? If Jesus didn’t come to bring peace to the earth, but a sword, what does that look like? How do we experience it? How do we understand it?