A Divisive Prince of Peace
By Pastor Seth
The author of the Gospel of Luke sure picked a strange place to put our scripture for today. Our text is situated between Jesus giving a teaching on the importance of integrity and taking responsibility for our actions and a teaching on restoration for those we have wronged. It’s placed between a lesson on accountability and one on reconciliation — things associated with coming together, unity, peacemaking, mending relationship. Such teachings seem pretty on par with the Prince of Peace, who holds love as the greatest commandment. It’s curious, then, that Jesus would give a lesson in favor of divisiveness in the middle of it all. It’s curious that Jesus would make the claim that he has not come to bring peace, but division — even between those closest to us.
It’s a peculiar passage and a shocking assertion that the Prince of Peace comes to divide. So what’s so divisive about the Prince of Peace?
- Christ came to transform the world, disrupt status quo
- Jesus wakes us from our complacency
- The divisiveness of an unexpected incarnation
- The abundance of the Holy Spirit as controversial for those who want to limit God’s accessibility.
It’s 1860 in the American Midwest, and Elizabeth Packard will spend the next 3 years confined behind the locked doors of the Illinois Hospital for the Insane. Involuntarily committed at the behest of her husband, Theophilus — a Calvinist minister and close associate of her Calvinist minister father — Elizabeth’s forced psychiatric stay was not due to being out of her mind but, rather, due to having a mind of her own. Born in Massachusetts in 1816, Elizabeth Packard received an education at the Amherst Female Seminary and was exposed to thinkers and theologians of various bends and backgrounds — igniting a thirst for knowledge and independence that she would carry with her for the remainder of her life.