Families That Pray Together May Not Stay Together!
There is a view that Christian families and congregations are full of peace and easy agreement. However, in my experience, Christians are not above friction and disagreement escalating into family fights or congregational divisions.
Some readers will be troubled by family feuding and the division of father against son and son against father. Sometimes it is brothers who cannot get along. Likewise, women can experience tension between a mother and a daughter, a mother-in-law and her daughter-in-law.
Peace is an ideal state of family and congregational life, but both families and congregations can have times of complex divisions and strife. Lawrence Olivier stated that living is strife and torment, disappointment, love, and sacrifice, with periods of golden sunsets and black storms.
Jesus clarified that he did not come to earth to give peace but to bring division. People would be divided in families as to his identity. His person and ministry would set people at odds with one another. (Luke 12:49-53) Was Jesus the Messiah or Savior from God or just a rabbi from Nazareth? Did He bring the true word of God, or was He a false prophet?
In the Old and New Testaments, the word of God is described as fire. It can heal and comfort as well. We cannot have just affirming words from God but also words that burn and have the force of a hammer that breaks rocks. (Jeremiah 23:29)
It is not surprising that many despise God’s word and follow their desires boldly, claiming that they will be alright and no disaster shall come upon them. This is because they have no fear of the storm of God’s wrath coming upon those who have paid no attention to His word in the latter days.
God’s words faithfully express what God has proclaimed: He the Lord is at hand, not some far away God from whom we can hide. God fills the heaven and the earth. (Jeremiah 23:23-24) Some encourage others to forget God and His word and instead follow vain hopes because it is what they want to hear.
In both Testaments, many trusted God and His word. They form a cloud of witnesses to show us our need to endure and trust God and His word when we are experiencing peace, especially when facing divisions and strife. Peace makes us feel secure, but division and strife cause us to take a stand for God’s word and Jesus, the founder, and perfecter of our faith. We will either take up our cross and follow Jesus or ignore or reject Him and God’s word.
The world Jesus was born into was one of division and strife. Sin divided people from God and one another. Yet, in joy and love, Jesus went about His ministry of God, absolving sins, healing sickness of body and mind, and raising to life several people held in death. All the while, he was enduring hostility against himself by Satan and sinners. He endured opposition from his family, his hometown, and other religious leaders who wanted him crucified. Yet, Jesus willingly endured the cross for all sinners. So, let’s not grow weary or fainthearted but endure in faithfulness to Christ in all division and strife and in times of peace.