The disturber of the peace

Published 10:05 am Friday, January 7, 2022

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By MICHAEL J. BROOKS | Guest Columnist

In a seminary class, the late Dr. Frank Stagg made a shocking comment: “We Baptists love Paul more than we love Jesus!”

After letting his word sink in, he continued: “Paul is the apostle of grace. He said we can’t earn salvation, only accept it. We read Paul and rejoice. But we read Jesus and get disturbed.”

Though his comments were made tongue-in-cheek, they contain great wisdom. Jesus came to Bethlehem and disrupted the lives of several people, including King Herod, the innkeeper, the magi, the shepherds, Joseph and Mary. All were busy when Jesus burst on the scene, forcing them to decide what course their lives would take in the future.

Though the prophet called him “the prince of peace,” Jesus continues his role as disturber of the peace.

He disturbs us in our sin. When Pilate killed some Galileans, and a tower fell and killed 18, Jesus told his disciples these weren’t the worst of sinners who died. “If you don’t repent, you’ll perish, too,” he said (Luke 13: 2-5).

Repentance is a radical turn to God. Jesus refuses to let us grow comfortable in a life of dishonor, nor does he want us to perish in unfulfillment. He stands before us and shouts, “Repent!”

Jesus disturbs us in our selfishness.

Once a distraught man asked Jesus to intervene in an inheritance case. He refused, and then took the occasion to speak another sobering word: “Beware of greed, for a man’s life isn’t measured by an abundance of things” (Luke 12:15).

Then Jesus told a story about a wealthy farmer who decided rather than helping others, he’d take his abundant harvest, keep it and live in splendor the rest of his life. Jesus called him a fool because he cared only for himself.

Jesus disturbs me when he tells me I can’t be greedy and godly, and that I must love people more than I love things.

And Jesus disturbs us in our social lives. He said we must love our enemies, bless them and pray for them (Luke 6: 27-30). This word goes against the grain of our human nature. When someone hurts us, our first reaction is to hurt them in return. But this cannot be.

Was Jesus talking about bullies? I don’t think so. Our parents taught us to stand up to bullies. Was he talking about war? I don’t think so. War is a sad reality in our world. I think he was talking about responding in love even when others are unlovely, which is what he did on the cross.

Jesus won’t allow us to be comfortable in disobedience. He disrupts the status quo and offers help to make us into better people. -30-

Reflections is a weekly devotional column written by Michael J. Brooks, pastor of the Siluria Baptist Church in Alabaster, Ala. The church’s website is