Christianity, Unconditional Love, and Absolute Tolerance: Sending a Sword (Matt. 10)

The recent controversy over the new handbook policy has brought with it additional claims that the gospel of Jesus Christ must be radically inclusive in its tolerance of pretty much anything.  This has caused me to revisit my study of Matthew to see if this is indeed the case, and as fate would have it, the next chapter is Matt. 10, which does seem to address this claim negatively.

This chapter starts out with Jesus calling and sending out the apostles.  His very first instruction to them is to not go to the Gentiles nor the Samaritans at all, and only go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (5-6).  We may not know the reason for this exclusion, but there it is.  Certainly the Gentiles would eventually have their season, but it was not at this time.

Much of the rest of this chapter is devoted to the idea that some people will accept the teachings of the apostles while others will not.  The apostles are instructed to seek out those who are worthy, and to leave their peace with them.  And to those who are not worthy, they let their peace return to them, and shake off the dust of their feet against those who does not receive them.

Jesus warns them against the wolves who will seek to persecute them.  There will be some who will confess Christ, and those who will not, and those who deny Christ will be denied by Christ.

Jesus then declares that He did not come to send peace, but a sword (34).  Man against father, daughter against mother, parents against children.  He says that those who love even family members more than Jesus are not worthy of Jesus.

I do not think that I want to speculate much on how this might directly apply to recent controversies, but it does suggest that the gospel is not as unconditionally inclusive as many claim it is.  Christ well knows that his teachings will cause division and controversy that will sometimes divide families and also bring persecution to those who preach this gospel.  We should probably not expect different results than what Jesus predicted.

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