“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
For I have come to set a man against his father,
and a daughter against her mother,
and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law
and one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it.
“Whoever welcomes you welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Whoever welcomes a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward; and whoever welcomes a righteous person in the name of a righteous person will receive the reward of the righteous; and whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple – truly I tell you, non of these will lose their reward.”
I find it surprising how Jesus depicts His coming as a battle. We tend to think (or at least, I do) of Jesus bringing peace in to our hearts and lives. Which He does! But He also sets us apart from non-believers. It’s almost paradoxical, really. We’re to spend time with them and become friendly with them, but not too friendly. Why? I think it’s because it is so easy for us to be influenced and led astray by the people we love. That’s why Jesus warns us not to love our families more than we love Him.
On the other hand, we are to welcome other believers the way we would welcome Jesus. Paul often refers to the church as our new family, and I think verses 40-42 set a real foundation for that.
This passage is hard for me to swallow, personally. Few people in my family are Christians, and many of my family members who call themselves Christians don’t really practice Christianity. I don’t want my family to be my enemy! I want to spend eternity with them in Heaven! But Jesus is right, my religion sets me apart from them. It makes most conversations awkward and uncomfortable. I don’t push my beliefs on them, but I frequently still feel that enmity coming from them. I can’t change who I am, and they won’t change who they are. We are at an impasse.
I wish there were some kind of manual: “How to win your family to Christ.” All my attempts have failed. It makes me so sad at times. But I take comfort knowing that it is all a part of God’s plan.