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When you think of the family values, you tend to think of a loving happy family, of a mother, father, and children all living together in peace and harmony, holding hands and singing, "Kumbaya".
But, in our text we find Jesus asking, "Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you – to bring division. From now on five in one family will be divided, three against two and two against three. A father will be against a son and a son against a father, a mother against a daughter and a daughter against her mother, a mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law".
In a similar passage found in Matthew 10, He says, "a man's enemies will be those in his own home". And so, while we thank God for the blessing of our families no matter how functional or dysfunctional they may be, we must never allow family values to supersede the values of God and His Kingdom! Consequently, so when family's values are in conflict with God's values, division must occur.
Read through your Bible, and you'll soon discover that often God's saints had to deal with this division:
And, in the New Testament, we find:
And while ideally your biological family would affirm your identity in Christ and the purposes He has for your life, you should also, take care not to allow any of your family members, no matter how close they may be to you, prevent you from fulfilling what you know is God's will for your life.
For if they truly loved you, they would encourage you fulfill God's will in your life and not try to control and manipulate you to do their bidding that is contrary to what the voice of the Lord has been speaking to your heart.
Now, please don't get me wrong – I'm not advising you to shirk your family obligations all together. As the Bible reveals, and Luther summarizes in the Table of Duties, God would have you faithfully fulfill your role as husband, wife, mom, dad, son and daughter.
So, If you're married, stay faithful to your marital vows, unless there is a biblical reason for you to separate. Parents, raise your children in the fear and admonition of the Lord. Children, obey your parents, as unto the Lord. And those of you have older parents, continue to honor your father and mother, as many in this congregation, are currently doing.
Thank God for your family that He has put you in, in spite of all of its imperfections and flaws. For just as He uniquely formed you in your mother's womb, so He has uniquely placed you in your particular family, in order to shape and mold you to be the person He wants you to be and to fulfill His marvelous plan for your life.
But, above all, your loyalty should be to God and His values. For even if your family should disown you for your loyalty to God, threaten to leave you, and tell you that they wish you had never been born, you have another family that will not disown you.
Brothers, and sisters in Christ, such as the members of Messiah. When you were born again through the water and the spirit in holy baptism, you became a member of the family of God. God is now your Heavenly Father, and Jesus is your older brother.
And in addition to brothers and sisters in Christ, God has given you spiritual fathers and mothers in the family of God, as well, just as the apostle Paul referred to Timothy as his son and why pastors have been traditionally addressed by the church, as "Father".
And so, we find Jesus saying in Matthew 10:48: "Who is My mother, and who are my brothers?", and pointing with his hand to His followers, he said, "These are My mother and My brothers. If you do what My Father in heaven wants, you are My brother and sister and mother".
And, so while, Jesus may bring division in our biological families, He also prayed in John 17, that those in the family of God would be one!
For in spite of our differences, that might divide us, as God's people, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
And scripture indicates that there's a special anointing of God, that takes place when the family of God is at one with one another. As Psalm 133 describes: ""See how good and pleasant it is for brother to live in unity! It is like the fine oil on the head, flowing down on the beard, Aaron's beard, flowing down over the collar of his garment, Like the dew of Hermon coming down on Zion's mountains. There, the Lord confers His blessing, and life forever.
And along with that, the unity of the Christian family in the Church is a powerful witness to this fallen and broken world! Hence, Jesus prayed in John 17: 23, "make them perfectly one that the world may know You sent me and loved them as you loved Me!
And as he says in John 13:35, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
One of the draws of the early church that continues to be a draw people today, is how much the people loved each other, and how outsiders easily become insiders, not by the number of cliques that a local congregation forms.
Friends in Christ, it's no accident that this text is recorded in our bibles, for Jesus was aware that those closest to us, while having the potential to do the greatest good, also, have the potential to do the most damage to our walk with God.
But it won't be your family that will be standing with you on judgment day. Instead, it will be you alone who will stand before the throne of God and given an account. And on that day you won't be asked, "Why weren't you Moses?" by your Maker. Instead, you will asked, "Why weren't you, you?"
The story is told of a couple, who were riding a tandem bicycle and suddenly they came upon a steep hill. The husband in the front began to pedal as hard as he could up the hill, determined to bike all the way up to the top, without having to stop to walk, while his wife was in the back, holding on for dear life.
The husband was sweating it out, his legs pumping as hard as he could, he was sweating like bullets, but finally through sheer determination, they made it to the top. And he said to his wife, , "Wow! That was a lot harder I thought it would be! My legs are killing me!
To which his wife replied, "Yeah, it's a good thing I was pressing down on the breaks the whole time, otherwise we might have rolled back down-hill!
Here's the point. A bicycle built for two is enhanced when the two people on the bike are pedaling together, heading in the same direction, with the same goal in mind
But, if the tandem is not pedaling together, heading in different directions, with the same goals in mind, it's better off to ride solo!
And, so it is when it comes to your family members. When you're pedaling together, seeking first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, heading in the same direction, praying for one another, affirming each other's unique gifts, talents, personalities, and life's experiences, for God's glory, your ride in life is enhanced by your family!
But, when family members are not seeking first God's Kingdom and His righteousness, heading in a different direction, cutting you down, wanting to squeeze you into their own image, rather than for you to be conformed to the image of God as you follow His Word, speaking words of discouragement rather than encouragement, then it's better to heed the words of 2 Corinthians 6:17: "So come out of them, and separate from them, says the Lord.", if not physically possible, then at least mentally and spiritually.
But when such a division occurs, keep in mind what God promises in the following verse, when he says: "Then I will be your Father, and you will be My sons and daughters!"
When Jesus bore the sins of the world and died on the cross, it caused division between Himself and his Heavenly, Father, causing him to cry out, "My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?"
But, by bearing all your sins on the cross, He provided the acceptable sacrifice for all your sins, so that not only can be assured of your Heavenly Father's forgiveness, you can also be assured that nothing can separate you from the love of God, that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Your Brother in the Family of God,
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