Matthew 10:34 “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn ‘a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law — your enemies will be the members of your own household.’ “
This scripture is disconcerting. I thought Jesus was the Prince of Peace. We like to see ‘Jesus meek and mild’ helping children and gently befriending all who come to Him. We shy away from ‘Jesus wild and fiery’ burning a path through the dead wood and litter of our lives with Holy fire. The Gospel will upset your life. Since all come to the Gospel as individuals – no family packages or rates – when one person in a family accepts Christ and begins their journey, he or she may well be at odds with the rest of the family. The Word does not accommodate the world, no compromise is possible, not even in families.
Years ago, our daughter went off to university. She was like most young people going off to university – way smarter than her parents. After a few years she returned to us and lived at home for a period of time. One Sunday she consented to go to church with us. The Pastor gave a powerful message challenging the congregation to stand up and fight for Jesus and His Gospel in our lives, and not compromise with the world. My daughter got increasingly agitated, she shifted in her seat continuously and started to look around aggressively. Being her father I could recognise the signs of her temper getting the best of her. She was going to blow up. At university she didn’t go to church. She was no longer going to be coerced into her parents’ crazy religion. My daughter had good reasons to rebel. I was often a performance oriented, workaholic, distant and critical father. I never took the time to listen to my daughter or talk to her as a person. But as happens far too often Jesus takes the flak for a parent’s shortcomings.
The sermon was irritating her to such an extent that I thought I saw wisps of smoke coming from her. I braced myself for an outburst. My daughter is given to saying what she thinks – no holding back. Just then the pastor gave an alter call for people to rededicate themselves. My daughter shot up out of the pew, marched to the centre aisle, glared at the pastor and turned around and walked out of the church. She slammed the doors so hard I thought the windows would shatter in their frames. Church proceeded and a very good service concluded with one less than we started with. After church I went home first. My wife stayed behind to help out with the clean up. As I came in, my daughter was sitting on our couch glaring at me. “What happened to you and mom – you’ve gone crazy! What is it with ‘Jesus this and Jesus that’ ? “
“What happened to you?” was my reply. “Mom and I haven’t changed, we’ve always gone to church. Why are you so angry about our going to church? You’ve changed. Not us!” For quite a while my daughter sullenly lived with her ‘crazy religious’ parents. When we had Bible study in the evenings she would leave before the meetings started. She always said; “Don’t let any of ‘those people’ look at my stuff.” I always thought that an odd request as her bedroom was upstairs and no one went up there. Finally I said to her; “You know what, after Bible study when you’re not around I take people on tours of your room. We go upstairs and I show people where ‘the sinner’ lives!” For a moment she took me seriously and I could see the fire light up in her eyes but then she saw the humour of my retort.
My daughter started attending the church at Harvest House, where my son was staying dealing with his addictions. She and her brother were always best of friends. They still are. As her brother started changing she started hearing His voice in her life and started changing. Slowly, in her desire to support her brother, her heart was softened to the Gospel. One day I came home to find my daughter sitting on the deck waiting for me. As I approached, she was looking out over the back yard and she said; “I’ve got a message for ‘that Pastor’ at your church.”
“Oh no! Here it comes. I’m not going to deliver any nasty messages for her”, I thought.
“You tell her, she’s right! You tell her that I’ll fight for Jesus, any time, any place!”
After months of war over Jesus and the crazy ideas in the Gospel my daughter had made peace with God. She didn’t become ‘meek and mild’. She is still as feisty as ever. My family is united by the Gospel but the process was wild, full of slamming doors and confrontations over resentments and past hurts. Today, my daughter, Rachel is always ready to; “Fight the good fight of faith, [AND] lay hold on eternal life, . . .” (1 Timothy 6:12)
Praise the Lord!