Matthew 10:35: Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace but a sword.
The movie Wreck it Ralph (Disney 2012) is about Ralph who doesn’t want to be a villain in the arcade game any more and thinks that if he goes into another game he can be a hero and gain respect. Of course when he goes into another game he kind of wrecks the game. And the movie then is about how he works with a princess to fix the mess he made and in the end he is a hero.
And I want you to think of the times when maybe you wrecked it. It seems to be a fairly human thing, you know, to have the ability to wreck things. In fact one of the first games I played with my granddaughter Spencer before she could even walk, was that I would build a tower out of blocks and she would come and wreck it and knock it down. All of us have stories of wrecked relationships, of personal failure, of leaving a trail of wreckage at work, or at home, or at church or wherever. We all have said things we regret, hurt people, acted foolishly, and made mistakes. Every one of us has been a “Wreck it Ralph” in some ways, sometimes intentionally, sometimes unintentionally.
One time a bishop met with a man and his son and the bishop asked them what they did to celebrate Christmas. The man named Fred explained to the bishop and to his son, Sam that they would get up on Christmas morning, open their presents and then go to church. Sam replied “Church?! On Christmas? We’re going to go to church on Christmas?” Fred patiently explained, “Of course, that’s what Christmas is all about. It’s about Jesus’ birth and God coming to us.” Sam said, “I know, I know, I know! But Christmas! Church wrecks everything!” The church wrecks everything. Yes it does. And the reason we come to church is to meet the child who was born to wreck everything.
It is the side to Jesus we don’t like to talk about. And it may be upsetting in an age where terrorism and violence always seem to be in the news to hear the words of the one born in a manger, that he hasn’t come to bring peace but a sword. But the sword that Jesus brings I think is the sword of truth, and the truth is that this world hurts a lot of people and is broken and so Jesus came to wreck the world as we know it.
I think Jesus came to wreck the whole system that thinks that people are expendable. Jesus came to wreck the systems of the world that deny a cup of cold water to someone in need. Jesus came to wreck the political systems that determine who is in and who is out. Jesus came to wreck the economic systems that make a very few people fantastically wealthy and the vast majority of the people in this world poor as church mice. Jesus came to wreck our world wide tribalism, that pits one tribe against another in competition, enmity, violence or envy, whether that be race, culture, political parties, ethnic groups, or faith traditions.
Jesus came to wreck our fear or death and exclusion, by telling us that we are all loved and included and that there is love and acceptance with him in this life and beyond the grave. Jesus came to wreck our view of the world which puts us at the centre of it, and everyone else a lesser light, and instead replace it with a view that love is the centre of the world and service to others is the way to be. Jesus even came to wreck our sense of family life, so that we would embrace a wider view of family, that all people are God’s children.
Jesus came to destroy our egos, …our selfishness, our self-centredness…which is the source of all our sin. Jesus came to wreck our value systems, which says that people are valued for their power, their wealth, their possessions, their looks, their talent or their heritage. I don’t know about you, but when I hold up the sword of truth to my own life, there are few things that Jesus needs to wreck.
For Jesus says: (and I paraphrase) For everyone who seeks to save their life will lose it, and those who let their lives be wrecked for my sake, will find life. Amen
First Presbyterian Church, Edmonton