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What the Bible says about Family Members as Enemies
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Luke 14:25-30

In the warnings of possible costs in Luke 9:57-62; 14:25-30, He says we must expect the loss of the respect and association with those we feel the most affection for, family members. They are not going to appreciate the changes we have made in our lives. They are yet blinded because God has not removed the veil covering their spiritual perceptions. This happens to many of us. It occurred in my relationship with my parents.

Jesus warns that our lives may become seriously unstable, as outsiders might judge it. He suggests that the convert may become somewhat itinerant, seeming to have an unsettled existence. He also suggests that following Him would put demands on our lives and time that might cut close family members to the quick, perhaps even turning them into enemies. Christ makes plain that, despite God's well-known mercy, He wants our wholehearted, unreserved loyalty with no yearning ever to turn back to our former lives. It is in meeting challenges like these that the potential costs become realities.

Though not mentioned directly here, Hebrews 11 reminds us of those who were tortured by mocking and scourging, by imprisonment, by stoning, and even by being sawn in two. Others were forced to flee for their lives, wandering destitute and tormented, barely able to clothe themselves. This may not happen to many of us now, but as matters intensify, Jesus warns that people will eventually kill Christians, thinking that they are glorifying God.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Awesome Cost of Love

Luke 14:26-33

Jesus draws attention to the disciple's closest relatives, those a person would normally expect would be those most likely to give comfort and aid in a time of need. Yet, in this case, the irritants were differences regarding deeply held religious beliefs and practices. To many of the new converts, the realities of the pains to which the church was exposed came “home” in an uncomfortable way. Their unconverted family members sincerely believed that the Judaism they practiced, delivered to the Jews through the great Moses, was the only true, God-given religion on earth.

Many new converts' unconverted family members did not graciously accept the unexpected changes that had entered their relationship, and they reacted emotionally. The converts soon found themselves living with enemies in their households. As one can imagine, these family persecutions were quite personal. The converts, caught in divided families, may not have been treated violently, but they were considered traitors to what all the other family members believed the Temple, priesthood, and sacrificing stood for.

This reaction happened because the Jewish religion was, in reality, spiritually corrupt and almost thoroughly anti-God. Had not the Jewish religious leadership just proved that by sending God in the flesh to an agonizing death because they failed to recognize God when they saw and heard Him? The anti-God attitude that the Jewish religious leadership tapped into and stirred against Jesus as He was tried before Pilate was more widespread and deeper than it may have seemed on the surface. Animosity toward the converts spread quickly through the communities of Judea.

It was not long before the Jews excluded the converts from any activities that involved the revered Temple. Though most of the converts may not have had to endure violent persecution at the hands of someone like Saul, they did endure emotional persecutions within their own families—it must have felt as if they were living in an alien world. The personal, emotional cost to those in this situation may have been quite high.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part Four)

Romans 12:1

The reality of the New Testament's teaching is that becoming a true disciple of Jesus Christ obligates a person to a great deal of sacrifice—even to the point of becoming what the apostle Paul calls being “a living sacrifice." The disciple of Christ is clearly the sacrifice. Why do the sanctified ones make these sacrifices since the price they pay for forgiveness is dedicated, obedient devotion to the leadership of Jesus Christ?

This price requires the sacrifice of every function of a Christian's body, mind, and spirit to the way of God. It can be very costly. It may cost the Christian his employment because of work requirements on the Sabbath. He may lose his family attachments because the family may not accept his beliefs. He may lose his general acceptance within a community for the same reason.

We commit to Christ for two primary reasons. The first is personal and somewhat self-centered: We want to be delivered from the burden of the death penalty, and we desire the awesome rewards God promises like everlasting life and, sharing eternity with our Creator and Savior. The second is generally slower to grow within us but proves far more critical in the end: We love God and desire the completion of His purpose in us. Through baptism, we want the means to express that love for God and for others as He continues with His creative purposes, preparing us for active participation in His Family in the Kingdom of God.

We should never let the encouraging Romans 5:1-5 slip from our minds:

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts, by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

These verses, naming gifts God gives us upon our agreeing to the New Covenant, remain as a brief but constant reminder of how the New Covenant enables us. They inspire and empower our faith in ways no prior covenant, even with God, has. But the New Covenant does not erase God's laws, just the penalty we have incurred by breaking them. Even the sacrificial laws involving animals, though they no longer have to be physically made, remain part of the Word of God because we can learn so much from them. They deepen and broaden our understanding of the sacrifices we must make under the New Covenant to show love to both God and men.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Why Hebrews Was Written (Part One)


 




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