Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Divided Household Should Be Our Greatest Concern! Who's Your Family?

Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press. 20 And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. 21 And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it, (Luke 8:19-21)

Being that my books deal greatly with the current trends in the eschatological arena, I find myself reading much about how the world is supposed to end, which includes (according to Pre-Tribulation theorists) nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, famines, pestilences and earthquakes in divers places, and other unimaginable horrors.

We are told by today’s so-called (and self-proclaimed) prophets that there shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be; and except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's (disciples of Christ) sake those days shall be shortened. They rightfully quote what is written in the entire chapter of Matthew 24, and usually throw in a few news reports from CNN, FOX and MSNBC, as they view B-roll footage of tanks exploding, tumultuous floods and raging forest fires.

What these prophets rarely mention in their discourse is found in Matthew 24, verses 9 and 10, scripture verses which state that they shall deliver Christians up to the ruling authorities to be afflicted, and they shall kill you. Who are they?

They go on to state that the disciples of Christ shall be hated by all nations solely because the disciples proclaim the name of Jesus; but, nevertheless, frightening and more horribly disconcerting, is that many people will be offended by others, they shall betray one another, and they shall hate one another. This is not speaking about Muslims hating Jews, nor even of Catholics hating Protestants, or whites hating blacks and Latinos (and vice verse); it is specifically speaking not only about our closest friends and colleagues, but by our very own family members, (Matthew 24:9-10).

Dear God help us!

But, then again, Christians should not be surprised about this aspect because Jesus did warn us this would happen:

Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. Luke 12:51-53. Other scripture go on to tell us that “brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. (Matthew 10:21, Mark 13:12 and Luke 21:16) New International Version.

Yes, family relationships have always been strained; however, they shall become more so as times of tribulation increases, to the degree that for many people (in order to survive anti-Christian onslaughts by the powers in charge), it will all boil down to an either you or me mentality.

Scripture in Romans and 2 Timothy vividly describes the newly adopted attitude that will take over and consume even our former fellow church members. These scriptures tell us how many, who once used to consider themselves (and or claimed to be) Christians, will turn away from the faith and will (in essence) turn their lives over to demonic forces.

They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; Romans 1:29-30 (New International Version) People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 2 Timothy 3:2 (New International Version).

We already see this prevalent in movies and television, magazines, paperback novels and especially on the Internet. We can see a runaway train of negativity as never before seen in mankind’s history. Many of us, who have been fortunate to acquire great friends and have sustained a loving and caring relationship with our blood brothers and sisters, will unfortunately be shocked when we experience betrayal as never imagined. Former brothers and sisters in Christ will turn on us to save their hides from the prevailing powers. But the horror of experiencing betrayal at the hands of our own blood brothers and sisters, and even our own sons and daughters, will be the greatest shock of all. It is going to happen, if it hasn’t happened to you already.

“Oh! I could never hate my relatives. Some may be a nuisance at times, but our family has always loved each other and will continue to do so regardless of the circumstances,” so you say!

This is all well and good, a noble and well intended sentiment. But, just as all the disciples of Christ abandoned Him when he was captured, flogged and crucified, there will be more than a tendency to deny our Christianity in order to save ourselves. This is called The Great Apostasy (Christians falling away from their faith in Jesus Christ) spoken of in 2 Thessalonians 2:3. Many claim this is not speaking about Christians but about non-Christians. What is it than non-Christians fall away from? How can they fall away from something they never had: Faith in Jesus Christ. No! This verse is speaking about current and self-proclaiming Christians falling away from the faith, a story that is rampant in today’s headlines.

“Yes,” you say, “I can see where nominal Christians could fall away from the faith, but my true flesh and blood relatives would never betray each other.”

I know of people who have such a close and loving relationship with their children, sons and daughters, almost to the point of idolatry, that they believe nothing could ever come between them. This is all well and good; however, as Christ said, He did not come to provide peace on earth (as many suppose) but to create division. He means that all of mankind has to make a decision. It’s either Him or friends and family. You will either be on His side or on Satan’s side. If your loved ones (relatives and close friends) do not pursue the (Jesus) path along with you, are you prepared to cut them loose forever?

“Hogwash,” you say?

Look closely at the scriptures. Jesus clearly stated (not hinted nor recommended) that you choose between Him and your closest relative (husband, wife, sons and daughters). He says it's either them or me! Are we prepared to make that decision?

“I’m not going to worry about it now; besides, God would never ask us to do this. And if He did, then I don’t need such a God, because my family (husband, wife, sons and daughters) are my entire life.”

So be it! But, yet, He clearly stated that He did not come to provide us with peace (especially in family relations), He said he has come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law, a man's enemies will be members of his own household. He adds (very clearly) that anyone who loves his father or mother more than Him is not worthy of He; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Him is not worthy of He; and anyone who does not take his cross and follow Him is not worthy of He. (Matthew 10:34-38). 

But, at the same time, He tell tells us that "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life." Luke 18:28-30 (New International Version).

Does this sound like a harsh, demanding and egotistical God? One who is only concerned about our devotion to Him and not our family members? Some say this, many believe God requires too much from us. But this is not true! Throughout scripture, God speaks about loving and caring for our family members. He tells us to be gentle with our wives and children, to be so loving and so concerned about our wives that we should even be willing to sacrifice our lives for them and our children. Wives should also have the same commitment (and respect) towards their husbands and children as well. And so it should be!

However, if those loved ones, those to whom you are the closest to, those to whom your very existence may well be for their sake, do not follow Christ, do not move daily in a Christ-like existence, do not manifest the attributes of a child of God, one who manifests the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, then you must make a choice, now, today, or become mired in a state of spiritual lethargy that will eventually cause you to fall away from the faith yourself.

“But I can’t turn away from my children, husband or wife,” not even for Jesus Christ! “You are asking me to choose between my brothers, sisters and parents? You go to hell mister!”

So be it! But the scripture says that the devotion you now feel and experience between your brothers, sisters, spouses and children, as glorious as it may be, could one day cause you more grief than you ever thought possible, as they slowly, and most assuredly, will betray and turn against you, Yes! Your very own children and parents will eventually turn against you, unless they love, revere and are willing to follow Jesus to the ends of the world.

The apostle Luke summed it up best as he described an incident that occurred while Christ was addressing a large throng of hungry people. Apparently his mother and brothers were trying to get to him, but, like VIPs and rock stars, they had trouble accessing Him among the thousands that were seeking His attention as well. They pleaded to gain access to Jesus, but His handlers obviously told them that that would be a problem. Nevertheless, one of Jesus' assistants relayed the message to Jesus, and this was His response:

Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, "Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you." But he said to them, "My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it, 
(Luke 8:19-21)."

Joe Ortiz is the author of two books that challenge right-wing evangelicals and Christian Zionists who promote or support the Left Behind and Pre-Tribulation Rapture doctrine. The books are The End Times Passover and Why Christians Will Suffer Great Tribulation, published by Author House. The End Times Passover


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