He came to bring a sword

July 29, 2008

One thing I have asked from the Lord,
that I shall seek;
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to behold the beauty of the Lord
and to meditate in His temple.
… my father and mother have forsaken me,
but the Lord will take me up. [Psalm 27:4, 10]
I have become estranged from my brothers,
and an alien to my mother’s children,
because zeal for Your house has consumed me,
and the reproaches of those who reproach You
have fallen on me. [Psalm 69:8-9]

It would be a terrible thing for me to exhort us all to be ambassadors of heaven but to ignore warning of the implications that will inevitably affect those dearest to us, our family. Holiness is either offensive or it is attractive. I could define “holiness” as a verb: that which severs fleshly relationships yet enjoins heavenly relationships. Too seldom do I ponder, prepare, and pre-prayer for this though, and too often do I find myself terrifyingly tempted to avoid topics with them beforehand, or compromise during one, or become embittered afterward, wondering what all it was that led me to such darkness of heart. For it is our closest kin who have the greatest impact in our lives, and are those whom we care for the most; thus their voice has quite a foothold, and – hear me – this is not a negative thing, but is made to be an occasion for blessing! However, my question is how do we love Jesus whole-heartedly and obey His command to love others, when it is loving Him fully that frustrates and even infuriates those I love the most?

Because it’s not so much that I shy away from confrontations concerning my faith, as I take them to be opportunities to teach and to test and to testify; neither am I worried of how I may carry my own heart, knowing that God has anointed me with His fragrance; rather, what I fear is how they will react to the anointing upon my life – will it be to them as the aroma of death? Sadly, knowing that the story of the past continues even to the present, history would somberly advise me to not get my hopes up for their future. But the Spirit – ah! the life giving Spirit – gives hope to the hopeless and raises the dead. (And hope is not the same as wishful thinking, any more than faith could be likened to idly tossing coins into a fountain, only to stroll away unmoved.)

Praise Jesus for His Spirit, but my, what a paradox! For it is by His Spirit that I am born into His family and can now share in His emotions rightly, and because my home is Zion and Jesus my Husband, I desire to be with Him where He is, and as a child of God am able to, even presently; when in His presence, I become like Him – in His mannerisms, His beliefs, His heart – and because I am like Him, I desire that all would no longer see me in my thoughts or deeds, but only my holy Father who is in heaven; so I spend myself for their sakes, that they may bow the knee by love and not by unwilled submission; but in so doing, though I may never say a word, they detect about me His holiness, and consistently respond by shunning the love of Jesus, leaving me with no choice but to reply by praying, and fasting, and coming into His holy hill, which causes me to love Him and them more, but they Him and me less!

So, I’ve been meditating on John 7:5, which reads, “For even His brothers did not believe in Him.” What must have been His heart for these men whom He grew up with as boys under the same roof? I want to cry just thinking upon it. Were they in the crowd while their half-brother stood bloodied beside Pilate? Jesus was surely thinking about me while suffering on the cross, but a me nameless and faceless in the perhaps of dawning millennia; however, He must have had a clear image of His brothers while nailed there on that tree, and praying fervently for them who came from the very womb He too was nurtured in. And though as He grew they waned, Jesus never once showed them false mercy (acceptance of sins) or false justice (excusing sins); He lived a full life of love for His Father unafraid, knowing well enough that His obedience and extravagance would cause latent sin to awaken and become agitated in all (especially within His brothers) to the doom of many. That was a love for the Lord His God that I am largely unawakened to.

Jesus, help me in my weak sincerity! Lead me on the paths that I should go. And save my family members to the fullest, that they may serve you with thanksgiving for all their endless days. I ask for wisdom and strength to walk in righteousness, though by my walk many may resolve to follow you never, by their own choices and not mine own. Teach me the fear of the Lord, that I may gain all of You, and You all of me. Amen.


5 Responses to “He came to bring a sword”

  1. kellyvarner Says:

    Wow… so good! You are an excellent writer. Amazing insight with His brothers, I never thought about that before.


  2. Great stuff man…very poignant and keen insight into this whole thing. Something of which,in regards to this and the last post, is extremely close to home (excuse the pun) for me at the moment.

    I find this to be the hardest of the stigma’s attached to the calling of discipleship and ambassadors.And I have been asking myself this same question for a while now:

    “my question is how do we love Jesus whole-heartedly and obey His command to love others, when it is loving Him fully that frustrates and even infuriates those I love the most?”

    Thanks for the post… it has given me a fresh resolve of both love and boldness.


  3. Ben Varner Says:

    If Noah’s family were taken (or, received) inside the ark by his righteousness (cp. Eze. 14:14, 20), and the days of the coming of the Son of Man will be like the days of Noah (Matt. 24:37), then I have hope that by my sustained and growing intimacy with Jesus, my family too shall not be left (or, denied) outside the sanctuary of life when sin globally reaches its pinnacle – this is *my* resolve to remain holy! That, and knowing that if their words have such impact in my life, and their words are spoken from the darkness, then how much more are my words impacting them, being that I speak them from the light? True, James did not believe the words of his own Brother, but after He revealed Himself to James, what a conversion he made! Lord, let it be for my family as well – reveal Yourself to them!

  4. Scott Sundby Says:

    We have been praying for you on your trip, Ben. Father, we agree with Ben and Kelly that their family would come to the saving, transforming knowledge of Jesus Christ. Reveal Your Son to them!

    “Holiness is either offensive or it is attractive.”

    I couldn’t agree more. It seems to be the fragrance of life to some and death to others, as you wrote. This is is true in so many areas – desire to fully obey God offends people at my work often.

    Ben, Elizabeth and I really see that with our wonderful marriage, which is holy to the LORD:

    (1) Some are offended when they observe our marriage – they disdain the passion, romance, and beauty of our union. (In Jumpin Catfish parking lot yesterday I embraced Elizabeth and an older man jeered something like ‘quit the hanky panky’ Hanky panky? Would that husbands everywhere delighted in their brides and embraced them!)

    (2) Some are intrigued, and see the beauty of Christ the bridegroom & His bride – our marriage provokes them for more delight and wonder in their own marriages.

    (3) A minority of couples are like-minded, seeing marriage as one of the highest callings and most beautiful fragrances before the LORD.

    Why is holiness either offensive or attractive? I really don’t know how the human heart works. Is it because some are ‘of [their] father the devil?’ whereas some are of our Father, God? Even that escapes my current understanding.

    love you Ben,

  5. Very true bro! That Noah verse is actually the promise that I hold up to the Lord when I pray for them. It is I believe a promise He has given me that if I am faithful to be righteous and proclaim righteousness then as Paul says to Timothy ‘you will save both yourself and those who hear you’ (1 Tim 4:12-16)

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