" 'Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 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.' " "He said to the crowd, 'When you see a cloud rising in the west, immediately you say, 'It's going to rain,' and it does. And when the south wind blows, you say, 'It's going to be hot,' and it is. Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the appearance of the earth and the sky. How is it that you don't know how to interpret this present time?' " " 'Why don't you judge for yourselves what is right? As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled to him on the way, or he may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.' " (Luke 12: 49-59 NIV)
Yes, this may very well be a strange verse to highlight as a path to positivity but right now I find they can be. Jesus spoke these words. They were a warning about being so concerned with reading the signs of weather, the earth’s appearance that considering the signals and signs of humanity’s being is left aside. There is also a warning about being more concerned with arguing, fighting with your fellow citizen than with what the consequences of being arrested or taken before a judge might be.
I propose that doing just what Jesus tells us to do are the most positive things we can do during this time. It’s not easy. Life on this imperfect Earth brings problems. To all of us. I don’t think the most wealthy persons on the planet or the poorest are without problems.
Jesus even tells us that He did not come to Earth to bring peace during His first visit. He never forgot that His first appearance here was to be followed by a second. At the end of the second, He would usher in peace. Meanwhile, between the two, even the most loving of families would be divided.
He didn’t name what the divisions would be but I read it with the understanding the Lord meant just about anything. If we’re honest with ourselves, families are split over a huge variety of issues, problems and beliefs. Religions and politics, social situations/concerns/issues and how to resolve mankind’s differences all top the list of what divides families. Splits occur in families, friends, neighbors, churches, marriages, countries, cities, states and governments.
The most positive thing we can be doing right now is also in this passage. Judge for ourselves what is right. You can’t make a discernment if you don’t know the truth. The whole truth. God’s truth.
As a teenager we attended a Missionary Baptist Church. (I speak ONLY for my experience with this particular church and her beliefs, not all Missionary Baptist Churches.) Our pastoral leadership were firm believers that if you were a willing vessel God would put the words in your mouth. Problem was, often that experience was through cloudy or misunderstood doctrine or scripture. Or tradition.
I was taught a considerable amount of weak or outright wrong church doctrine. I openingly participated in church discipline where members had “fellowship withdrawn” from them. There was the belief that modest dressing meant dresses. Along with that women were not allowed to speak in church business meetings or hold church office even when there were no qualified men to do so, and the only Bible I was allowed to read was an authorized version of the King James Bible.
Imagine my surprise when in college I began to learn differently. The first time I just didn’t feel like going back for Sunday night service because it meant putting on pantyhose, a girdle, dress and appropriate shoes. When I honestly expressed that to the woman I was with she was shell-shocked.
Then she explained I could wear pants and God would be okay with it. I agreed to try but was a nervous wreck walking into the church that night. I was sure God was going to strike me with lightening. He didn’t. Now I couldn’t tell you what the sermon was about, because I was too busy hunkering down, but I learned a great lesson. Maybe what I had been taught wasn’t quite right.
In truth it took years to rid myself of all the bad doctrine and false teachings from those teenage years. I had to learn what was right for myself, not just because someone told me this was what had to be. Later when I taught young people I wore them out saying, “Read your Bibles, ask questions, know for yourself what this book says.”
I say the same thing to you now. If you want a way to stay positive, do positive things during this troubled, angry time, read God’s book. Know what it says. Read it in a translation that goes back to the original scriptures and is translated into a language of today. If you’re new to reading the Bible, start with the New Testament. (The Old Testament is about living under the Law, the New Testament is about living under Grace.) Don’t automatically assume whoever is teaching you is always right. Don’t be fooled that those who are successful by man’s standards are successful by God’s standards. The pulpit shouldn’t go to the highest bidder. KNOW FOR YOURSELF.
Our relationship with God is the most intimate, personal relationship of our lives. It requires knowing Him and nothing is more positive than cultivating that relationship in the right way.
Give away your despair, your hurt, your sadness. Give it away simply by doing for someone else. Is there a neighbor you can chat with in their yard or your yard? Did you bake chocolate chip cookies and share them? Did you put your heart and mind into something creative to do with your children that will give them and you a wave of hope for the future? You don’t have to spend a penny, give it away right out of your heart through your hands.
Prayers for positive actions and beliefs in your lives,