Bible Reading: John 8:13-30, 37-59; Matthew 10:34-39
The apostle Paul says that we should avoid those who cause division among God’s people [Romans 16:17]. He is referring to those people who cause division because of evil intent, selfish motivations or fleshly foolishness.
What Jesus says and does in our Bible reading today causes division, but this is a different kind of division to that about which Paul was writing. This is division caused by the truth – the fundamental truths about the Person of Jesus. Because Jesus is the truth He must speak the truth. Many years ago I heard this statement, “Division among God’s people is not caused by the Holy Spirit but by the lack of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus said, “I have not come to bring peace but a sword” [Matthew 10:34]. Truth divides people!
The danger is that we compromise truth for the sake of unity, and that is something that Jesus refused to do. He always spoke in love but refused to compromise truth and the result was an ever-widening gap between those who believed in Him and those who opposed Him. He challenged the many people who listened and believed in Him, to prove that they really were His disciples by abiding in His word [verse 31]. To abide in His word means to listen, learn, honour and obey what He says, and to make His words the foundational principles for life and practice. Later in the chapter Jesus says, “if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death” [v.51].
In the face of mounting opposition, Jesus consistently reinforced the truth, whether people believed in Him or opposed Him. He told them that the Father had sent Him [v.16,18,29,42], that He had come from heaven [v.23], and that He existed before Abraham [v.58]. He told them that He was one with the Father [v.16,19,29]. He called Himself the Son of Man, declaring His deity [v.28], and that He was going to be lifted up meaning be crucified [v28].
This angered the religious leaders who continued to repeat the same arguments that were reported earlier in John’s gospel, but now they wanted to stone Jesus [v.59]. Jesus was very honest with them. They did not desire to hear the truth because they were the children of their father, not God, but the devil [v.44]. They imitated their father, and did not know the Heavenly Father [v.19]. They were enslaved by sin [v.34]. They sought to kill Jesus and hated the truth [v.40]. They were blind to the truth, could not hear God’s words [v.37, 47], and were liars [v.55]. Strong words indeed!
Why is it important to be consistent in speaking the truth and not compromise for the sake of unity?
Why is it important that the truth is always spoken in love? What does this mean?
Why is it important that Christians are fully united on the fundamentals of the faith but be free to have differences on things that are not fundamental? What would you regard as the fundamentals of your faith?