Did Jesus Come to Unite or Divide?

This seems like an easy question, right? Well, you’re wrong. You’re both wrong in your answer (because you said “Unite”) and you’re wrong in that it’s not an easy question.

The Premise

Jesus says in Luke 12:51-52, “Do you suppose that I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you, no, but rather division; for from now on five members in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three.” So why don’t we think of Him as being divisive? Because to us, He’s not. Believers are united in Christ. “So we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another” (Romans 12:5). How come He unites His followers and divides us from the rest of the world? Why not just unite us all together? Because that’s not how truth works.

The Examples

Let’s use some common terminology of today. If the entire point of Scripture was that we love one another, well that would be hard to quantify on whether or not we were accomplishing our goal.

A mother could say she is loving her husband by staying with him even though their marriage is challenging.

The same mom could claim she is loving her children by getting them out of a loveless home and divorcing her husband.

A judge could say he is loving a drug addict by letting him go with just a warning.

The same judge could claim he is loving the drug addict by getting him into a rehab program.

A pastor could say he is loving a gay couple by warning them that their sin is destructive to their relationship with God.

The same pastor could claim he is willing to marry them because love is love and that couple clearly loves each other.

A teenager could say he loves God but never read or follow the teachings in Scripture.

The same teenager might claim to love God and be a Jehovah’s Witness.

Love is a vague, amorphous, subjective construct that is absolutely impossible to quantify.

The Examples (Continued)

The best Biblical definition of love is probably, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” because that seems to encompass the whole love your neighbor as yourself command too. But honestly this is just a general guideline. It really just helps get the attention off of ourselves and on to other people. It aids in our communication of the Kingdom of God. But it’s still massively subjective. I might love things that you do not. I love meat, so should I bring a giant rack of BBQ ribs to my vegan friend? (especially when you were pretty sure that pig was inhumanely raised)  Should I make my squeamish friend that thinks Grey’s Anatomy is too bloody watch The Walking Dead because I love that television show? (especially when the previews reveal a zombie horde and you know someone’s intestines are going to be eaten) Besides, what I want is not always what’s best for me. Should a teacher never give homework because they didn’t particularly like doing homework 20 years ago? Should a parent never take their teenagers phone away because they would hate it if someone took their phone away? “Love” is not the ultimate goal of Christ or Scripture. Are we supposed to love God and love others? Yes! Absolutely. However, is that the point of Scripture, to teach us how to love? No! Absolutely not. Was Jesus’ work on the cross an act of love? Yes, definitely. So was it done to merely be a demonstration of love for us to exemplify? No, certainly not. Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, came to this earth to die on the cross for the sins of the World. He took the punishment we deserved to face. Our love for God and others is a bi-product of that act of the cross.

The Illustration

The truth is, I believe Jesus is the one and only hope for the salvation of mankind. The second you make that claim, it divides you from the people who disagree with that statement. No one is going to disagree that you should love people. So if Jesus’ point was to unite the whole world, He could have just said some kind of vague concept like that, and we all would be in agreement. The problem is that we would die and go to Hell because we were united together in our sinful selfishness like our forefathers at that Tower of Babel. Jesus came to rescue sinners. He did that through the only means possible – His sacrificial death, shedding His perfect, sinless blood. So Jesus stands on this red X and says that this is what marks the spot. All those who believe in what Jesus did, flock to that spot. All those that either don’t agree that Jesus did what Scripture says He did, or they don’t agree that what He did was the only way to Heaven will thus stand away from that red X and hurl their insults of disbelief. That’s called division. Jesus divided us. There are those who believe the truth and there are those who believe a lie. If Jesus doesn’t come, then sure I guess mankind is more united, but we’re all united in hopelessness. Jesus specifically came to bring that hope. He brought a spotlight of truth and shined it on Himself for the world to see. That light divides where He stands from the darkness that surrounds Him.

The Application

As a Christian, you do have to make a choice whether you want to be united with the world and its values or Christ and His Truth. The truths of God are literally mocked openly these days. This is why love is so important (just not the end goal). Love people who disagree with you. To use our examples from earlier, bring an organic salad to your vegan friend. Watch the Amazing Race instead with your squeamish friend. To use more scriptural examples, help your neighbor move-in no matter their sexual orientation. Drive your co-worker to the airport no matter their religious beliefs. Be a listening ear to your family members no matter their addiction. But don’t for one second shy away from the truth. Jesus came to save all sinners from their perishing destiny. He saved you. He’s willing to save them too. First Peter (or as some say, One Peter) tells us to be ready to give the reason for why we have such hope, however it warns us to give that defense gently with kindness. God knew that we would be divisive by our belief. He didn’t want us to be divisive by our actions. Let people say nothing bad about what you do, let them only hate your belief. Hopefully they will be self-aware enough to see their own hypocrisy.

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