Jesus made some amazing statements in Matthew 10:34-36. In this passage, He said: Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a manís foes shall be they of his own household. Now, when Jesus comes the second time, He will bring peace to the earth, as He throws down the kingdoms of this world, and sets up His own kingdom and rules as the ďPrince of PeaceĒ. But until then, there will be conflict and division over the Lord Jesus Christ, and this division will often take place within families. Basically, the point that He is making in the above passage is that we must be willing to accept persecution from family members for Jesusí sake, and still put Him first. Immediately after making the above statements in Matthew 10:34-36, Jesus goes on and says in verse 37: He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Probably most dedicated Christians in fundamental Baptist churches have had some unsaved, or carnal, family member tell them that they are too fanatical and narrow minded, etc.
Let me make the following observations and suggestions to those who may be being opposed by family members because of your Christian life:
1. Be sure that the opposition is because of your position, not because of your disposition. Romans 14:16 says: Let not then your good be evil spoken of. Some Christians find family members opposing them, not because of their good position, but because the Christian is so obnoxious and has such a surly attitude about everything, that their family members think that it is the Christianís position which makes them so cantankerous. Thus the family member speaks evil of the Christianís good position because of the Christianís bad disposition. What Iím saying is that it doesnít hurt to be against sin, and be kind at the same time.
2. Donít compromise your convictions in order to please your relatives, or in order to lessen their opposition to you. Ephesians 6:13 commands us: ...and having done all, to stand. Some will oppose you even though you are kind and have the proper disposition. You may try to explain in a kind way why you stand where you stand, but after it is all said and done, we are ultimately supposed to stand on Bible truth and Bible convictions.
3. Donít retaliate against your relativesí opposition to you by being unkind to them. I Peter 3:9 commands us: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing... This is easier said than done, but it is what the Bible commands, and it is what the Lord Jesus Christ did for us, i.e., when we were His enemy, He loved us and blessed us anyway. Thus for His sake, we should do the same toward others.
4. Find strength by walking with God. Isaiah 40: 31 tells us: But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength... By waiting upon the LORD (i.e., spending time with Him), we can find strength to stand in the face of opposition. We must have a daily time of prayer and Bible study; we must be faithful to all the church services; we must have Christian friends with whom we can talk and pray.
5. Remember that you may be the only hope for those lost relatives to be saved. I Corinthians 7:16 speaks of a Christian who is married to a lost person, and says the following: For what knowest thou, O wife, whether thou shalt save thy husband? or how knowest thou, O man, whether thou shalt save thy wife? You see, for one who is the proper kind of Christian, the main objective will be to win their lost relatives to the Lord Jesus Christ. What a blessing it is to see someone who once persecuted and ridiculed you come to Christ and be saved!
6. Remember that, in the final analysis, Jesus is to be first in your life. As quoted earlier in this article, in Matthew 10:37, Jesus plainly stated: He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. If the choice comes down to having to decide between Jesus and a relative, Jesus is to come first.
7. Rejoice for the privilege of suffering for Jesus. This, too, is easier said than done, but it is exactly what the Bible teaches. It is interesting to notice how the early Christians viewed suffering for Jesusí sake. Paul said to the church at Philippi in Philippians 1:29: For unto you it is given in the behalf of Christ, not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for his sake. (See also Matt. 5:10-12; I Peter 4:12-13; etc.) I love the way Paul expressed this. Basically he said, ďBoy, you Christians at Philippi are really blessed. You not only get to be saved and go to Heaven when you die, but you also get to suffer a little bit for Jesus, Who suffered so much for you. What a privilege!Ē
If we will follow these principles, they will help us when relatives oppose us because of our Christian testimony. May God bless you.