Imagine being at a job interview and saying that one of your strengths is disturbing and dividing. It would, most likely, count against you, especially if you disturbed and divided the interviewing panel.
People do not like being disturbed, even if they need to be. People persecute disturbers and even try to destroy them.
Why then did the Son of Man declare that he had not come to bring peace but a sword? We must, very quickly, point out that he did not mean a literal weapon. Everything about him demonstrates his opposition to the use of force, especially in his name.
History shows that Jesus of Nazareth does disturb and divide. But he disturbs hearts and divides opinions. He disturbs complacencies and divides debaters.
If you want to follow him this week, which is what discipleship means, in what sense should you follow in his footsteps as a disturber?
This is difficult ground because history is littered with the folly of political, religious and military actions done in the name of Jesus which, although they disturbed others, have nothing to do with Jesus of Nazareth or his mission.
I want to ask you to consider how he came to see himself in such ways. What was it like for him?
I’ll start with a suggestion. It was lonely. Follow his life path and you will see it takes him down a road of increasing isolation. More and more people desert him, cannot keep pace or simply don’t understand. His loneliness reaches its peak with “my God why have you forsaken me?” in total isolation on the cross. Interestingly there were four women and one man who steadfastly refused to desert him. A tribute to the courage of women – which echoes throughout history.
So a first question for you in this search is “are you prepared to be lonely for him?”
My second suggestion is this. If Jesus was going to consciously disturb then he had to cultivate a deep and profound sense of what really matters. He had to discipline himself to become crystal clear about right paths, wisdom and authority. He had to be able to diagnose and expose error and shine lights into darkness. He had to be sure; otherwise he would simply be a shallow troublemaker.
So here’s my second question. Are you willing to work really hard to learn what mattered to him?
Think of the image of parts of the church today and you will discover that it has reputations for taking stands on many issues. All I am suggesting here is that some of the issues are not revealed as important to the Son of Man. They are projections of prejudices from our own imaginations which we use to hijack his name and add it to our self interested positions.
Then there are other issues which deeply matter to him which we ignore. Of course there are also a whole load of issues which we stand for because they align with his leadership.
But how to tell which is which? That requires prayer, fasting, study and receiving wisdom from others.
This is about what you do this week. It is about how you handle a team meeting, how you and your organization sets goals. It is about how money is generated and spent. It is about how clients are handled and careers built. It’s about how emails are written, replies are phrased and conversations are constructed.
It is so because, if you are prepared to work really, really hard to learn from the Son of Man, you will discover that his ways are not our ways – they are profound, spiritual, transforming and energizing. And rare.
So two things will happen to you. You will, at times, discover loneliness. And you will disturb others. Bright lights always do that.
If you need help working on your wisdom get a copy of Jesus and the Racing Rat and deepen your journey. Follow the link on the left to order your book.
“Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword”.
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