“Do you think I 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.” Luke 12:51-53
Peace in family life? Think again. The enemy seeks to destroy our families. A few words spoken with fear and trepidation can change a family forever. The initial shock leads to intense grief. The loss of spiritual unity reverberates like a terminal illness—an amputation—a death that shatters our peace.
As believers, we long for Psalm 133:1 to be true of our families: “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” However, in truth, the passage in Luke fits far more families.
What happens when a beloved family member’s path leads them away from the truth of scripture? Emotions run the gamut from unconditional love to the fear that they will no longer want to be a part of the family. The grief is akin to death. Fear threatens the peace of a family.
The world has chipped away at God’s truth since the Fall, and its victims often come from families with a previously deep unity of faith in the saving power of Jesus Christ. The lie that leads to drugs, alcohol, sexual immorality, and atheism is the same as Satan asked Eve in the Garden, “Did God really say . . . ”
When loved ones espouse a lie, there are two main paths to dealing with it: cut them off or love the sinner and hate the sin. The latter seems far more Christ-like. We don’t win the lost with self-righteous condemnation and estrangement. Keeping peace in family life demands unconditional love.
Over and over, it angered the Pharisees that Jesus was “a friend of tax-collectors and sinners” (Matthew 11:19). Yet when the thief on the cross asked Jesus to remember him when he came into his kingdom, Jesus answered, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:43). If Jesus won sinners by love, can we do less?
Job lost all his children, his wealth, and his position. Even his wife told him to curse God and die. Tested by Satan, stricken with sores, and wracked with grief, he sat among the ashes, scraping himself with a potsherd, wishing he had never been born. A picture of depression and grief. When his friends offered less than helpful suggestions, Job’s response was “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him” (Job 13:15). His hope and trust in God never wavered. Job offers an example of faith in times of trial.
When the actions of loved ones set us afloat on a sea of grief and sorrow, anger and weeping, pleading and prayers, God stands firm and unchanging in heaven, reminding us he didn’t spare his own Son from Satan’s testing. We take our instruction from Luke 15:20: “But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him.” Just as our heavenly Father feels compassion for us in our trials and questions, we feel compassion and love for those who wrestle with the truth of God. Keeping peace in family life demands both compassion and truth.
When fear and sadness surround us because of a loved one’s direction, we must remember that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). He “took up our pain and bore our suffering” (Isaiah 53:4).
In those moments when our prayers turn into cries and pleading, “the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Romans 8:26).
Jesus reminds us that “I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you” (John 14:18 KJV).
Remember that nothing about your situation was a surprise to God. Our Lord knew what your loved one would choose long before either of you was born. God is good and loving. The Father is always in control and has a perfect plan. Lay your burden at Jesus’ feet and leave it with the one who loves them more than you ever could. Trust him and do not doubt.
Peace in family life? A sword is more likely. As the End Times draw nearer, many more will fall victim to Satan’s lies. Jesus’ call to take up our cross and follow him requires a single-mindedness that will grow increasingly rare. We must pray continually for our family members and friends to stand firm and not be led astray. Pray for the hearts of those who have failed to be softened, for their ears to be opened. Pray without ceasing. Keeping peace in family life will equal the time we spend on our knees.