In the wake of the good results of ‘Star Wars’ in the late 1970’s a further science fiction franchise that produced an impression on me as a young boy was ‘Battlestar Galactica’.
Drawing upon theories of lost civilisations and humans on Earth getting descendants of space travellers, the original story of ‘Battlestar Galactica’ was basically a reinterpretation of ‘Frankenstein’. The mechanised creations of humanity identified as Cylons, turn upon their makers whose surviving remnants then seek a new dwelling identified only in myth – Earth.
In the late 1970’s life was really very simple for me as a kid and this was reflected in ‘Battlestar Galactica’ – the humans have been the goodies and the Cylons have been the baddies.
But we all develop up.
Life becomes additional complicated and so did ‘Battlestar Galactica’ when it was relaunched in 2004. The Cylons now looked like humans, they believed in God, they varied in their opinion as to whether or not humanity must be wiped out or not – they had soul!
The Cylons became a lot additional of a reflection of humanity with differing shades of virtue, belief, and morality. It became tougher to inform who have been the goodies or the baddies and civil war in space by no means felt so actual.
I grew up going to a church with bullet holes in the walls.
What I must clarify is I grew up going to a church with bullet holes in the walls that originate from the English Civil War (1642-1651), the time of the Cavaliers and the Roundheads. It is properly identified to regional historians and Civil War re-enactors alike as getting of strategic value through that period of British history. All I can say is that it was some thing of a surreal expertise as a kid to sing hymns of peace and appreciate when surrounded by these historic reminders of divided humanity!
Would you be a Cavalier or a Roundhead, I wonder?
While we can toy with that thought in our imaginations now, it was a actual, stark query for the generations ahead of us in England. Households divided more than loyalties, brother against brother, daughter against mother – each and every possessing to make a decision in their religious and political allegiances. Some of these divisions have reverberated properly into the 21st century, for instance in Ireland exactly where Oliver Cromwell’s suppressive policies enacted by his New Model Army inflicted lasting social divisions.
I believe of that when I come to the gospel passage Luke 12:49-53, when Jesus says:
“I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I want it have been currently kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and what constraint I am beneath till it is completed! Do you believe I came to bring peace on earth? No, I inform you, but division. From now on there will be 5 in 1 household divided against each and every other, 3 against two and two against 3. 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.”
I believe it is 1 of the most disturbing passages for any Christian to deal with. 1 explanation getting that it may well not match properly with our tips of Church or God at all.
But there it is.
So apart from ignoring it – how can we respond to Jesus’ words now? Maybe we will need to start by reminding ourselves of some critical points in the language that Jesus was utilizing.
- The ‘fire’ that Jesus came to cast is greatest understood as a purifying and refining fire. The prophet Malachi spoke of the Lord getting “like a refiner’s fire and like a fullers’ soap” (Malachi three:two) that separates the very good from the negative. This fire is cast upon the earth to refine and purify everybody and all the things – it is God’s act and not the act of a group of human beings to be the ‘refiner’s fire’. What I imply by this is that caution must usually intervene when the words ‘God is on our side’ are utilised as history can teach us.
- The baptism spoken of right here ought to not to be confused with the water baptism of Jesus by John the Baptist (Matthew three:16). The baptism Jesus speaks of in Luke 12 is a baptism that had not however occurred. This baptism is his death, burial, and resurrection. The outcome of this baptism is the kindling of the refiner’s fire that is cast upon the entire earth.
These two variables pose us with a decision.
In verses 52-53, Jesus shows that this division will have an effect on household loyalties. This is possibly the hardest verse to listen to, but we know it is correct and that it occurs. For the listeners of Luke’s Gospel the decision was stark since Christians have been a persecuted minority. Picking to be a Christian was a pricey selection. Sadly, that is nevertheless correct in some components of the planet to this day.
But possessing stated that and apart from the English Civil War, households in this nation till fairly lately, have suffered as a outcome of divisions more than religious affiliation. Granted most of the people today I speak to on this topic are in their 80’s or 90’s but sometimes I nevertheless hear a story like:
“Uncle Bert married Aunt Bertha and since she was a Catholic no one in the household had something to do with them ever once more.”
I do not believe these are the divisions Jesus was referring to. As an alternative some of us in all probability know that we have to be ready as Christians to make alternatives when it comes to our appreciate of God and appreciate of household – since sadly in some circumstances – the two may well not go collectively.
We may well by no means have to make the dramatic alternatives produced by these Christians who initially listened to Luke’s Gospel and lived beneath the oppressive regime of the Roman Empire. We may well by no means have to make the alternatives of allegiance produced by our predecessors in the English Civil War or by Christians persecuted about the planet to this day. But even now we will have to make alternatives and some of these alternatives may well be uncomfortably close to dwelling.
My very simple rule in such circumstances is usually to be open to a further point of view, even inside my personal household, but that does not necessarily imply it is my track. And often that can be challenging – that can’t be denied and Jesus even tells us that to stick to him is not usually the effortless path.
The second half of this gospel reading portrays Jesus chastising the crowds for not recognising the indicators he bares. Like dark clouds or a stormy wind, the teaching and acts of mercy he performs indicate what will come. Jesus is born for 1 factor: to herald the coming kingdom of God, and to establish this kingdom he will raise neither banner nor sword but alternatively hang on the cross, the vulnerable insignia of God’s new reign.
These who recognise the indicators and decide on to stick to him will not only will need to forsake the trappings of energy that adorn the lords of the present kingdom, but can also count on resistance, even opposition. But if Jesus’ contact to a new way of relating to each and every other — by way of forgiveness, courage, and humility — stirred up division through his time and that of the early church, what does it bring now?
Christians in the western planet are asked to give up really tiny for the sake of faith in the 21st century. How, then, do we hear Jesus? To answer this query, we ought to engage in our personal climate forecasting by discerning the indicators of the occasions:
- What components of our lives hinder our service to God?
- The God of the lowly and powerless?
- The marginalised and the forgotten?
- The God who challenges the status quo?
But if we worry undergoing Jesus’ baptism by fire, we may well take comfort in the very simple however stark reality that Christ who comes to baptise us with fire and the Holy Spirit initially embraced his personal baptism — experiencing harm that we may well know healing, undergoing judgment that we may well know pardon, suffering death that we may well know life.
Therefore, hunting backward to Jesus we may well locate the courage to appear forward to discern the indicators and challenges of our personal occasions. To run the ideal way – but also understanding this may well not be the very same way all the time as other people. In the letter to the Hebrews 12:1-two we are encouraged to decide on to reside by faith since:
“…we are surrounded by such a fantastic cloud of witnesses, let us throw off all the things that hinders and the sin that so very easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set ahead of him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the ideal hand of the throne of God.”
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And when I nevertheless query myself I am reminded of 1 very simple reality from the church exactly where I grew up – the bullet holes in the walls are man produced.
God’s fire is a refining fire that comes in appreciate – not anger, or hatred, or worry, or greed – or any of the other variables that make up the division and war of human history, religious or otherwise.
- How do we decide on to run toward that appreciate rather than away from it?
- How do we express that appreciate to these that may well oppose it?
Therein lies not only our history but our story – however to be completed. Like athletes I am positive the answer to our story lies in our day-to-day instruction. Hopefully NOT lead bullet holes but gold medals will be the inheritance we pass on.
But time will inform if Cylons with soul will be our final legacy…