"Do you think I (Jesus) came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law."
I am still stunned by these words from Jesus.
Jesus: the one who came to atone for the sins of the world and bring the peace of God.
But the message of the gospel is scandalous.
It is offensive and divisive.
It is the gospel that forces us to choose a side, to either be with Jesus, or against Jesus.
In a family, some will be on one side, and some will be on another side. Practically, some will become Christians, and others wont. There will be strife between them because light will not mix with darkness. There will be persecution, jealousy, hurt, anger, betrayal, lost trust, and intense conflict.
So the gospel divides our families and causes conflicts. The End? Yea Right, you know it goes deeper than that. As Christians, we are in this tough position, living face to face with those who war against us. What is our response?
What is freeing to know is that "our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms" Ephesians 6:12. We are not in battle with their person, but with their ideologies and truth claims. We battle against the demonic forces that drive their thinking and their lifestyle. We have a real enemy, and he is the great adversary, Satan.
As those who have been freed from the bondage of the enemy, we are interceding on behalf of our family. In 1 Peter, Peter talks about wives as intercessors who should seek to win over their husbands to believe the gospel. We also should pray against the powers that are ruling over our families, and speak truth into them (as well as living according to this same truth). In this way, we present a picture of what the family of God is.
We show them who our Father in heaven is, and how Christians are his children. We tell them how our Father adopted us into his family by the work of Jesus on the cross, and how we have a new identity in Christ. We mirror the life of Jesus, who was misunderstood and thwarted by his family, and who was betrayed by his close friend, but responded with gracious love. He fought evil with good, and looked past our intentions to bring about a reconciliation that could only be accomplished by bold love and merciful forgiveness.
It may never get easier, but we must continue to be faithful. To be like Jesus, and have the hope and faith that God will bring about transformation in the most unlikely of places. Even the family. Praise be to God.