As part of drawing people into God’s kingdom, unfortunately some will be left outside
49 “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! 50 But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am under until it is completed! 51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
As part of drawing people into God’s kingdom, unfortunately some will be left outside. A short treatise on predestination and election is beyond the scope of this Grow Daily format, but in this passage, we see that Jesus is concerned by the task ahead of him (v50 in another translation reads ‘how great is my distress until it is accomplished!’).
It’s probable that the reference to bringing fire in v49 is not to the final judgement, but to the refining fire of baptism that will separate believers and unbelievers.
When we think of our own families, this passage may (understandably) cause us anguish. Time with unbelieving relatives that continually resist our attempts to hold out the beautiful truth of the gospel, or even act with hostility, is hard.
I’d like to share a story from ‘the Storm-Tossed family’, by Russell Moore. Moore mentions a friend that is dropping off their child to a university college. The father leaves his child’s dormitory room and starts weeping bitterly. An older Christian man comes upon the father and asks if he’s alright. The father shares that he’s feeling guilty because he’s a musician – he’s remembering the amount of time he’s spent on the road away from home, and that when he was at home, he was often watching television and not spending quality time with his son. The older man said ‘Oh, the Lord redeems all of that’.
We don’t need to be told that we’re good for trying to evangelise our family, or that our efforts to share the gospel with our family earn us brownie points. Instead, we need to be reminded that through grace, our humble efforts here on earth are joined to the redeeming work of the cross. Jesus loves us and is waiting for us to endure a little hardship now so that we can then enter eternal peace with him.
Head: is there work for God’s kingdom that you’re reluctant to start (or continue?) If so, remember Jesus was also stressed about his role in completing the divine plan.
Heart: Are there members of your family, or close friends / colleagues, that you need to forgive if they’ve rejected your efforts to share the gospel with them previously, and you’ve taken the rejection personally?
Hands: is there someone close to you that you can share God’s good news with this week?
Prayer: Lord, thank you that in Jesus we find the strength to play our part in bringing people into your kingdom. We are sorry that we often shrink back from this role. Please, through your Spirit, strengthen us for the task and give us wisdom to encourage others to become believers.
A song to listen to: Lead me to the cross
OIiver Meehan – Living Church Creek Road