“Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground unperceived by your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows. ‘Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven; but whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father in heaven.” (Matthew 10:29-32) Jesus truly is the Prince of Peace, but that doesn’t mean that he didn’t expect and even promote conflict. His very presence was, is and shall be an annoyance to the present age. That is also true for all of us who would venture to follow him. I don’t know about you, but I prefer the conflict-free life. I enjoy that lovely space where I get what I want AND everybody likes me! But Jesus doesn’t seem to see life in those terms and that means that I no longer can either. I have to let go of the illusion of a conflict-free life and trade that in for the one that Jesus promises: trouble, but also his blessing; conflict, but also his abiding care. How are you doing with that in our conflicted times? Trying to avoid it? I was at Wheaton College a couple of years ago where I saw again those famous words of Wheaton alum, and martyred missionary, Jim Elliot: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” For the Christian, the conflict-free life is an illusion; it cannot be maintained, but oh, brothers and sisters, what is ours in Jesus Christ can never be lost! Have a great week.