Pastor as Divider (1 of 2)

This past week I preached a sermon about discerning the times.  It was a tough scripture.  One that scares me because the content can make a grown man cry.

Anyway, I started the sermon with a bit of a joke - in seminary (or maybe just conventional wisdom I picked up) they say some things should just not be preached about.  I said there were two: football and politics.

When I said football, everyone chuckled.  When I said politics...

no one flinched.  I think for a split second everyone was afraid I was going to preach about politics.

You know, maybe I should?  Perhaps there are things in life that are not too holy for Jesus to sway us on?

I should do it.  I should preach about politics and Jesus.

Well rest easy because that is not this post.  Jesus said (Luke 12) that he came to divide us.  As I said in the sermon I preached this past Sunday, Jesus first priority is not dividing us, it is bringing us this holy fire that he wishes to kindle on this Earth.  He will take us kicking, screaming, complaining, cautious, hesitant, back-stabbing, proud, lonely, hurting, and angry into a place where we can know we are loved.

If Christ's faith, hope, and love is better than the fickle, hyped, and lustful world than we know - why won't we accept it?  We NEED to be divided.

I don't think Jesus is ready yet to separate us in the sense of final judgment.  That day will come, but it isn't here yet.  But I do think that if we are going to understand God's love revealed through Jesus Christ, we must a.) be divided (separated) from those things that deny the clarity of God's image within us. b.) be divided from those things that we can't let go of or matter so much to us they compromise God's vision for our lives.

So hey, as a pastor, shouldn't I help make that happen?  Shouldn't I help people be divided in this way?

Well, yes and no.  Yes I should show grace that shows a disconnect between the sins a person commits and the treatment that person receives.  (what?  That's grace my friend.)  No, I shouldn't make decisions for people that would divide them. God's first priority is not to divide us, but to love us.  And as a pastor, revealing God's love is my first priority - right?  But there are times when people just can't let go...

and if they can't let go, should I help them?

As a pastor, I can love people as Christ would love them.  This should cause division enough.

The greatest gift our God has ever given us (out of love) is the ability to choose.  Free will.  I believe in this gift so well that I don't believe it can be negated.  I cannot try to negate that gift. 

Pastors can be dividers.  And this can be a good thing.

Oh, and the next time I reference this I will talk about politics :)