“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. ‘Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me’” (Matt.10:34-39). Have you got a family member or friend who belittles your Christianity? Do they make fun of you or insult you because you believe in “utter nonsense”?
Maybe it is even a spouse who cannot come to terms with your devotion to Christ. My wife and children are all devoted believers, but I have family members who are disparaging toward me because of my choice to be a believer. Conversations have to be carefully navigated because any “slip” could lead to angry rebuttals, and there are also the constant innuendos and insults to deal with. While we desire to see every one of our family members in heaven one day, we sadly have to accept the reality that some will not be there by their own choice. It does not prevent us from speaking to them, but we also have to understand that ultimately the decision is theirs to make. But another reality must be faced.
What do you do when a loved one is so against your religious beliefs that the relationship becomes toxic? What if that relationship causes you to stumble in your Christian faith? How do you balance your need to be accepted by family and friends with your desire to be a true and faithful servant of Christ? Often the unwillingness to be at odds with the former means that we step out of our Christianity in order to save the relationship. Sometimes we try and please both our earthly friends and our spiritual Father, but that is a precarious tightrope to walk. It could result in us being at odds with the scriptures and the real danger of forgoing the promise of an eternity in heaven. Now, I am not saying to throw away your family and friends and live the life of a secluded monk, but I do want you to be aware of where your spiritual enemies may be lurking.
Sometimes the thing you love most on this earth is the thing that is most dangerous to your Christian path. What if that relationship causes you to stumble in your Christian faith? These are tough decisions that can give us sleepless nights. Yes, you could choose to have an uneasy peace where you subdue your Christian enthusiasm. You could choose to always walk on eggshells to not offend the other person’s sensitivities. It is a dangerous path, but I suppose you could choose it.
But, if that relationship will cost you your salvation, there is another path you may have to consider – cut the anchor that will drown you spiritually. By saying if we love a parent more, we are not worthy of Him, Christ emphasizes that there should be nothing hindering our relationship with Him. Don’t just give up; go to the person and try and come to an understanding, but if they are still unable to accept your Christianity, it may be time to make a tough decision. Are you willing to stand on your faith even if it means losing someone you love? Do you love Christ enough that you are ready to let a best friend or even a family member go? Our relationships on earth are meaningful because they shape who we are, but they should not prevent us from reaching our goal of a home in heaven. “Choose this day whom you will serve…But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord” (Josh. 24:15).