“Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division.”
Abdullah is a young man who lives in a predominantly Muslim country in central Asia. Several years ago he lost his parents and two of his siblings, so at times he feels very lonely. His family members did not die, however. They and other Muslim relatives turned away when Abdullah became a follower of Jesus.
Sadly, Abdullah’s story is not uncommon. Many Christians throughout the world suffer from strained family relations because of their faith. Even if we live in a religiously tolerant society, we can experience rejection or misunderstanding by family members, friends, and neighbors because we follow Jesus.
Our reading for today may sound shocking, but it rings true for many Christians. Jesus is being fully transparent here. Having faith in Christ will bring divisions and disrupt our relationships with relatives and friends who are not believers. Faith gives us many blessings, but it can also strain our relations with loved ones.
Jesus knows what we are going through. He personally experienced misunderstandings by family members and friends. He sends his Spirit to give us inner peace, and he encourages us to reflect God’s love to all who do not understand our devotion to him. The Spirit guides us daily. And once he breaks down people’s resistance to God, our relationships are easier to repair.
Father, thank you for your Spirit, who comforts us when we are rejected because of your name. Help us to witness to all who don’t know you. Amen.
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