Jesus speaks a difficult message:
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”
The Bible tells husbands to love their wives, and children to honor their parents.
The same Bible says we sometimes have to choose between Jesus and our family.
Jesus is the Prince of Peace, only for those who believe in Him.
For all others, He comes to bring a sword.
This sword of division is ancient as the sword used by the angel in the Garden of Eden, forbidding reentry in Paradise. The sword of God divides between light and darkness, between good and evil, between the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent. God preaches this Gospel for the very first time in Genesis, while speaking to the snake:
And I will put enmity
Between you and the woman,
And between your seed and her Seed;
He shall bruise your head,
And you shall bruise His heel.
God puts enmity between the seed of the woman, and the seed of the serpent. The “seed of the woman” is a prophecy of the virgin birth, and the “seed of the serpent” is a reference to people who are outside the Church. God promises to bring division between the Church and the World.
It is a glorious thing when peace reigns, and every member of a family is converted to Christ, each and every one becoming Orthodox. Sometimes this happens.
But often it does not happen. Some family members join the Body of Christ, while other family members remain aligned with the World. The result is distress, disunity, and division.
Sometimes the division is softened by the bonds of love and courtesy within the family.
Often, though, the division is painful and grievous. As Jesus said, a man’s enemies become those in his own household. A man comes to Christ, and then finds himself rejected by his wife and his children. Or a woman comes to Christ, only to be abandoned by her husband and children. Either way, the cross of Christ brings very real and present suffering.
What will your response be, if your most beloved family members choose to reject Christ? What will you do if your spouse threatens divorce, or if your own children despise you?
If you face a difficult situation where you have to choose between Jesus and your family, who will you choose to follow? Who is more important to you?
Are you willing to be an Orthodox Christian, no matter what the cost?
Are you willing to follow Christ?