Jesus today makes what may be among His most enigmatic statements in the whole of the Gospels—which is no small task. The One we know as the Prince of Peace has declared He is not here to bring us peace (cf. Lk. 12:51). There are many implications for what Jesus is saying, one of which is that He is not interested in facile agreement. What we may think of as peace—superficial co-existence—is not on Jesus’ agenda. He will not simply paper over differences. Rather than “live and let live” or “agree to disagree,” if there are disagreements, they will come out, and they will matter.
What is true of the world is often true within our own hearts. If Jesus will come and point out the division in the world, He will come and point out the division in our own hearts as well. As we progress in the spiritual life, we may become more aware of the division that exists in our hearts as we realize that Christianity is not just something that makes us feel good, but makes actual demands of us—demands which can grate against our old habits and preferences. Jesus will certainly triumph in the world, but He will not triumph in our hearts unless we let Him. And so we pray the prayer of the man in Mark’s gospel (9:24): “Lord, I believe—help thou my unbelief!”