You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers, relatives, and friends, and they will have some of you put to death. (Luke 21:16 NET)Observation:
We shall find that we must let loose of all hands except the hand of Jesus Christ. Friends will prove treacherous, and will betray us. Relatives, deceived by the enemy, will think they do God service in opposing us and putting forth the utmost efforts to bring us into hard places, hoping we will deny our faith. But we may trust our hand in the hand of Christ amid darkness and peril.
The followers of Christ must expect to encounter sneers. They will be reviled; their words and their faith will be misrepresented. Coldness and contempt may be harder to endure than martyrdom. . . .
Parents will turn harshly against their children who accept unpopular truth. Those who conscientiously serve God will be accused of rebellion. Property that was willed to children or other relatives who believe the present truth will be given into other hands. Guardians will rob orphans and widows of their just dues. Those who depart from evil will make themselves a prey through laws enacted to compel the conscience. Men will take to themselves property to which they have no right. The words of the apostle will be verified in the near future: "All that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution." [Ellen G. White, Maranatha, p.197]Application:
What would drive members of the same family to turn against each other? I guess the question should be, why are we surprised that they do? The fact is that we are human beings and all of us battle with the same challenges and temptations. Selfishness and egocentricity inside us all want us to be number one, to be served, to be right.
But, how can this happen among Christians? While we are born again in Christ, we are not perfected yet. As we read about Jesus’ disciples, there existed among them that desire for superiority. Paul and other leaders of the early Christian church also faced that challenge. And the history of the Christian church is plastered with the struggle of countless numbers of people, some very humble and willing to serve, others asserting their power, and others forcing even their fellow spiritual family to submit.
What about us, though? As hard s it is to live the way God wants us to live, we have some of those days or times when we draw closer to Him and begin making changes in our lives. But the devil is not happy with those changes and he brings criticism, attacks, anger, animosity, and more often than not they come from those closest to us.
I remember when I first made a commitment to Jesus and to His church. Because that meant leaving the church where I grew up, family and friends became angry and found every opportunity for criticism and to point out where I had fallen, or where my life didn’t completely match their view or even what I had told them my beliefs were now. While the Bile states that we have “a cloud of witnesses,” I felt like I had a cloud of spies.
As the years have gone by, I have lost the friendship of friends and the love of family, ignoring their hurtful actions and words while at the same time accusing me of being guilty of the same or worse. And yet, Jesus, and Ellen White, point out that the worse is yet to come. Our only consolation and hope is in knowing that even if every hand turns against us, the hand of Jesus still has us in His grasp.A Prayer You May Say:
Father God, as hard as it is now to live without the family and friends that we love, it will be so much harder when they betray us and even persecute us. I plead, Father God, for strength and courage as we face these challenges, but I also pray for them that whether they can see You through us or not, they may find You some day, and that in finding You, we may find each other again.
Used by permission of Adventist Family Ministries, North American Division of Seventh-day Adventists.