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 a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Matthew 10:34-36
And blessed is the one who is not offended by me. (The words of Yeshua) Matthew 11:6
Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1:10
Have you been under the impression that all of your relationships should be in good condition all the time if you are following Jesus? It might surprise you to know that Yeshua said this might not be the case if your family and friends are opposed to the teachings of Messiah. Yes, your relationships will thrive if each person involved follows what Yeshua taught, but most people do not. Your response? Hold fast to the teachings of Jesus. Forgive all insults so you live at peace with everyone as far as it depends on you (Romans 12:18), honor your parents (Ephesians 6:1-3), obey the authorities set above you (as long as what is being asked is not at odds with God’s Word), give to Caesar what is Caesar’s (be a compliant, law abiding, contributing community member–Romans 13:1-7), but remember, we must obey God rather than man (Acts 5:29). You cannot win the approval of both God and man (Galatians 1:10). Eventually, you will have to choose your allegiance (Joshua 24:15). And even in this, Messiah has walked before you preparing the way.
When Jesus was growing up, learning in the temple, the Rabbis were impressed with Him, even astonished, because of His wisdom and understanding at such a young age (Luke 2:42). We gather that He must have even become a Rabbi under their leadership, sitting at the feet of some of them. But when Jesus was revealing Himself as the Messiah, things quickly changed. Now this man was claiming to even be the Son of God with authority to forgive sins and to heal on Sabbath! This was problematic for them. What He taught and said to them went against every religious bone in their bodies. He went from being thought of as the the darling of the Jewish community to the demon of Judea. And eventually He was killed for what He said, just like the prophets before Him. (Acts 7:52, Matthew 5:12) It was the truth of His teachings that cut to their hearts. They were offended (Matthew 15:12). And His teachings still offend today, especially among the religious (Matthew 11:6).
Yeshua came to bring a sword (Matthew 10:34-36). He warned us that His teachings would offend, create tension, and, in some cases, even separate people, even families. He knew this first-hand. He was called a madman by His brothers and mothers. Are you ready to follow this kind of king? Some of your most treasured relationships will not be able to stand your choice to start obeying Yeshua’s clear directives to go make disciples of all nations, but you should still go, even if you are mocked, insulted, ignored, threatened, or cancelled. Do not doubt your interpretation of scripture if you are clearly following something Jesus said to do when you get push-back from your family and friends. Obeying Jesus in going out to the nations is hard but it’s not complicated. And unfortunately, not all your relationships will not survive this kind of available, radical obedience. In fact, you may offend them by your obedience. Will you die that death?
In Mark 10, we see a rich young ruler rejecting the offer to follow Yeshua because he had much wealth. After the rich young ruler walked away, Peter said, “Lord, we have given up everything for you.” And Yeshua said, “Truly I tell you…no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
But, you may ask, doesn’t God care about relationships between my family and friends? Of course! And if you look at the life of Jesus you can see that His relationship with at least some of His family members (including His own mother) were eventually restored as they locked into the reality of the gospel (as demonstrated by Mary’s presence at the foot of the cross as He died). God does not desire for there to be a sword between you and your family and friends, but He allows the truth of Yeshua to “cut” for several reasons:
- Because He asks us to not deny Him. He wants intimacy with you and knows that your allegiance will demand your insistence on the truth of Jesus despite arguments that come against what Jesus taught. You will be presenting unpopular points of view. But remember when people want you to tolerate false teachers and teachings and prophecies that you are not being “divisive.” When put to the test, you must choose His truth and His Kingdom over friends, familial comfort, and your relational support systems, because you love Yeshua. You cannot deny Him. And because you love your family and friends. You must tell them the truth, in boldness, as led by the Holy Spirit.
- Because He values the free will and choice of you and your family members. He will not force them to come alongside and support you, but you can pray for them and ask God to reveal His heart to them and invite them into full surrender.
- He wants to challenge your loved ones to come with you on this journey–emotionally, financially, maybe even physically! He wants you to be united with your family in the long run, so you can run together. In some cases, the relational “cut” will only be temporary. Some of the issues may actually arise out of a grieving how much they will miss you or how afraid they are for your well-being “out there.” Some will genuinely tell you that you are crazy and unbalanced and actually begin to persecute you. Don’t worry, and be as patient as you can in this kind of suffering. You may lose or experience damage in some relationships as you go out. But, for those who truly desire to follow Yeshua, your obedience is inviting others into obedience too! He wants to train your heart to rely on His comfort and love, and He will give you people who also rely on Him in this way too so you won’t be alone in your obedience. Every step of the way, you will find relationships and brothers and sisters to walk alongside.
There will come a time in every person’s life, where they have to be willing to die to their closest relationships to follow Yeshua, even if it means suffering, loss, and persecution. Not only this, but some friends, you will need to actually separate from because they tempt you and the rest of your brothers and sisters into disobeying the Lord (1 Corinthians 5:9-13). Have you surrendered your relational ties to your family and friends? Ask the Lord which relationships you are not willing to offend and may He bring you through the mourning and (hopefully temporary) loss of those people as you obey Him in the truth.
Caveat: I want to be clear that the Bible gives no record of God calling people to permanently leave their spouses and children in the name of ministry. God has made you and your wife “one” and your job is to figure out how to follow Yeshua as a family, united in purpose. Even if you are a believer and your spouse is not, you should not ask them to leave, and you should not leave them (permanently), but if they leave you, you should let them go and remain unmarried, patiently asking God to bring you both into unity in Yeshua. (1 Corinthians 7:10-15, Corinthians 7:39)