RCL Year C, Proper 15
Jeremiah 23:23-29, Psalm 82, Hebrews 11:29–12:2, Saint Luke 12:49-56

The Gospel today endures to be one of Jesus’ harsher proclamations of the kingdom, and coming to terms with it can be difficult. He speaks of division and division even in a family of five: three against two and two against three. What is this all about? We need to answer that question before we come to terms with what he is saying.

And in putting this Gospel to you, I want to be clear, and I want to be careful. The kingdom Jesus proclaims is God’s kingdom. It is what God wants it to be. The kingdom meets God’s specifications. It meets God’s requirements.

So far, so good. The kingdom is God’s, and the kingdom is what God wants it to be. It is the next step that is a stumbling block and the reason for division. Since the kingdom is God’s, necessarily that kingdom isn’t what everyone wants it to be. Some like it, and some do not. Some gravitate toward it, and some are repelled by it. This is so despite the fact that each of us is made in the image of God. It is a mystery: we cannot completely understand it or know it.

Let’s approach this with the framework provided by the prophecy from Jeremiah. Some prophets prophesy lies, and some prophesy the Lord’s word. The prophets who prophesy lies prophesy their own dreams and their own imaginings. And then, on the other hand, there are those who prophesy the Lord’s word. The two are far apart. “What has straw in common with wheat?,”[1] as Jeremiah asks.

What is it about the kingdom that some accept and others reject? I put it to you this way. It is what I said before. The kingdom that Jesus proclaims belongs to God who designed it and made it the way it is. This appeals to many of us. But others there are who reject this kingdom, because they would rather have something of their own making. There will be three against two and two against three. Some want to be a big fish in a small pond. But I would rather be whatever God wants me to be in the biggest pond that there is.

[1] Jeremiah 23:28.