He was answering another persons posting that suggested that Amendment 10A would help us live and let live. My friend wrote, “That’s what we have to look forward to in this future world of live-and-let-live: the rest of us will be continually branded as hatemongers until we surrender to every last demand of those on the other side. I think that some form of separation is probably the only logical path to the live-and-let-live scenario you envision.”
Studying in the gospel of Luke the last several weeks I have increasingly become interested in Jesus’ words about division and peace. After reading two different statements by past Moderator Bruce Reyes-Chow I have decided the words of Jesus on peace and divisions are immensely important.
Reyes-Chow’s statements are several months apart. I will begin with the latest, which is an interview first posted on Rev. Janet Edwards’ blog and then picked up by More Light Presbyterians. Both sites are advocating for the ordination of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons. In that interview Reyes-Chow sounds temperate and kind in his words. Edwards asks him: “What would you say to those Christians who have a different view on inclusion?”
Reyes-Chow’s answer is “What I often say is this: I hope folks who disagree with me will trust that I am seeking to discern the same mind of Christ as they are. We are all searching for God as our lives unfold. In the midst of our differences, we share a conviction that our relationship is built on God and our faith in Christ. I acknowledge that God is playing a role in the other person’s life.”
Next, Edwards asks Reyes-Chow “What can we do to foster dialogue and build bridges with people with different views on inclusion?”
Reyes-Chow gives several answers, including “We can appreciate where people are coming from, which is different from agreeing with them. We can agree that a win/lose approach has proven that it is not helpful.”
But that interview is linked to a speech he gave much earlier on proposition 8 in California. In that speech Chow stated, “This is a time when Christians around the world who will continue to push for justice must come out and stand, stand long and advocate the message of God to those Biblical literalists who have poisoned our understanding of marriage, sexuality and love."
And while he later insisted he did not aim that speech at Presbyterians, (Not even conservative ones), he recently stated in his article “An open call to Christian LGBTQ allies on NCOD:”
And let us make no mistake that one of the greatest perpetrators of the rhetoric, justification and execution of the spiritual and physical violence has been the church. I fully know and admit this as part of the reality of this family of people that I am part of.So claiming a biblical position on the ordination of those who insist sin is not sin, who seek ordination without repentance, does place orthodox Christians in a troubling position in the eyes of the progressives. And the reason is clear. In many cases the Christian progressive is speaking with somewhat winsome and reconciling words to the orthodox, while to the secular community and other progressives they are making common cause against the orthodox with what would be, in any other case, called hate speech.
I have several observations after reading Luke 12: 49-52. This is Jesus’ statement, “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo and how I am distressed until it is accomplished! Do you suppose I came to grant peace on earth? I tell you no; but rather division; …” Jesus goes on in this passage to speak of the family divisions that would occur because of him. This verse does appear in some ways to be a contradiction because Jesus does promise peace and he prays that his followers will be in unity.
But through the long history of the church she has been in battle both from forces within and forces without. And often, as today the forces within and without have joined together to assault her. But the real attack comes not from humanity but from spiritual powers of wickedness (Eph 6:12) which want to destroy her unity, purity and faithfulness. So what is Jesus saying?
His baptism and the fire are his death and resurrection and the divisions they cause because humanity must make choices either for him or against him. As Darrell L. Block says in his commentary on Luke:
And what is the message that is either rejected or accepted? It is tied up with the baptism that Jesus speaks of. Here is what Bock writes about the message’s origin:
This passage stands in contrast to other Lucan declarations about Jesus’ offering peace to humans (Luke 2:14; 7:50, 8:48; 10:5-6; Acts 10:36). But in these texts, peace comes to those who have responded (cf. Eph. 2:13-17, being tied to the offer of the message and thus contingent on a favorable response.) Without such response, division occurs. The peace that Jesus brings in his coming to earth is not universal, because some do not respond favorably to his offer. Jesus’ offer contains the choice between aligning with the kingdom and standing against it. One must take sides.”
Thus the point of the metaphor is that Jesus faces a period of being uniquely inundated with God’s judgment, an allusion to rejection and persecution. Luke will later describe Jesus’ dying as ‘accursed’ not as an act from God against Jesus but by God through Jesus against sin (Luke 24: 44-47); Acts 5:30-31; 10: 30-43). And here lies the judgment’s uniqueness: God’s plan and the coming of the Spirit’s judging work of fire cannot occur until Jesus undergoes rejection and bears God’s judgment. Only then can Jesus begin to do much of what he came to do.Jesus work of saving humankind from their sin is his purpose. It does include creation but in order for that to be so it is focused on humanity and it brings division, and yet peace to those who receive forgiveness. So now to a later question that Reye-Chow directs, during the interview, to those in the church who are orthodox.
"And I ask them: If the PCUSA does change and we open ordination to LGBT people, is ordination so central to your faith that you will leave the PCUSA? Is this so central to how we are to love Jesus and how Jesus loves us? Is this is a Cross issue, a measure of what is most important to our faith in Christ?"
The answer isn’t really about whether one leaves or not. There is faithfulness in following Christ in obedience, whether it is in the midst of the proclamation of darkness or the proclamation of light. But yes, it is a “Cross” issue. Yes this is central to how we love Jesus. We are obedient and faithful to Jesus because he died for us.
Painful divisions will come when we reject the mercy of Jesus Christ.
In the video wait for Hector's speech. He finishes what I want to say here.
 Darrell L. Bock, Luke 9:51-24:53, Vol. 2 Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand rapids: B Baker Academic 1996) 1194-95.
 Ibid. 1194.