What happens when the pressure to conform becomes personal? Opposition from officials within one’s own nation is one thing but how do you cope when your family oppose your belief and message? Jesus says the decision is to become resilient whatever happens.
In the second half of Jesus’ instructions to his disciples prior to their short-term mission’s trip he has taken them beyond the here and now to what they will experience in years to come.
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death. You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another. Truly I tell you, you will not finish going through the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes.” (Matthew 10 v 21-23)
This shocks us every time we read it but for many in the persecuted world it is their daily experience.
Jesus tells the Twelve that opposition will not only come from their own people and the Gentile authorities but mission-disciples will find that persecution will come from within their own family.
You might not be able to comprehend that happening in your beautiful family.
But it is happening right now around the world.
When you stand for what the Bible says is the standard for living it will provoke those who do not want to live to that standard.
Betrayal, rebellion and hate have broken many hearts of siblings, parents and children.
Maybe relationships in your own family have died today because you hold to positions of identity and sanctity that have become offensive to our world.
This becomes the test of all tests when the family are involved. Will you water down your beliefs? Compromise? Do you risk losing that family member as they threaten to walk away from you because you make their lifestyle uncomfortable?
This is the time for resilience and if you choose it then Jesus promises that God will step in and help you through the ordeal.
Jesus closes this part of his instruction by bringing them back to Israel. That’s where they started, going to the lost sheep of Israel, persecuted in the synagogues, before Gentile kings and then their own families but still going and that is the key. Keep going. Be resilient. Don’t let opposition stop you. Escape from one opposition and find a different place for the gospel. Don’t abandon Israel, your birth-place, this mission is everything, until Jesus comes again.
Jesus knows it will be tough and he is asking for resilience. He still does.