Jesus concludes his discourse on persecution by saying something a bit disturbing.
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn “a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law — a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.” (34-36)
Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. How can he then say that he didn’t come to bring peace, but a sword that would turn even a person’s own family against him (or her)?
The thing to remember is that while Jesus is the Prince of Peace, that peace will ultimately come when he returns and he reigns over all. That time, however, is not now.
And so he reiterates his earlier warning, that people from your own family may turn against you for following Christ.
Sadly, I’ve seen this happen in Japan more than once. I knew of a girl whose father threatened to disown her and kick her out of the house if she continued with her Christian faith. Following Christ can lead to discord in a family. The question is, how will we respond?
Do we hide our faith, though continuing to believe? I’ve known people who have done just that…and got into big trouble when they were found out. But more than that, Jesus said,
Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven. (32-33)
Can you really say that you love and follow Christ if you deny him before the very people that you love? Can you deny him throughout your life, and still call yourself a Christian? I’m not saying there may not be moments of weakness. Peter certainly had them. He denied knowing Jesus three times. But in the end, he went to the cross for his faith in Jesus.
Jesus then said,
Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (37-39)
In other words, Jesus needs to be more important to you than family, and you need to put him first, no matter what suffering you may go through. Because if you try to hold on to your family at the expense of Christ, if you compromise your faith to keep family peace, you’ll eventually lose them all in hell. But if you are willing to lose them, if you’re willing to break up family peace because of your faith in Christ, who knows if your family and those you love won’t turn around and come to follow Christ?
The words I’m saying are not easy. But know that even if you lose your all your blood relatives, you have another family to help you. People that will love you. People that will support you. People that will help you through the hard times. That’s what the church is all about. Not a building. But a family.
So let us not compromise our faith for the sake of “peace,” even among family. Rather let us always put Jesus first. Only in doing so will we ever find true peace.