One friend said...
READER>> Your beliefs destroy Christian friendships!
ME>> This is the most important objection of every objection raised to against my happy thesis that Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind. Certainly of all possible concerns, people and relationship are the most important concern. Yet the objection is raised that my beliefs have strained and even broken relationships with dear friends and churches. So how can that be good? Is my proposed thesis harmful? Shall we just conclude that this is an inevitable part of life under the sun? Shall we even conclude it is an unexplained part of Jesus' call to discipleship? After all Jesus did say...
34) Don't think that I came to send peace on the earth. I didn't come to send peace, but a sword. 35) For I came to set a man at odds against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36) A man's foes will be those of his own household. 37) He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me isn't worthy of me. 38) He who doesn't take his cross and follow after me, isn't worthy of me.
Matthew 10:34-38 (WEB)
Is my thesis and even Jesus himself the promoter of disregard for the importance of people and relationships? Why would Jesus say these things? Is Jesus simply a trouble maker or divisive person? With a very superficial glance some might think so. However, consider that Paul said,
Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.
2 Timothy 3:12 (WEB)
So we are reminded that not all is equal in this world. There are right and wrong ideas, and right and wrong ways to live that are in conflict with one another. The decision to believe right ideas and live right ways will offend those who chose wrong ideas and wrong ways to live. But you may counter that you do not know or nobody can know what is right or wrong in these matters. Certainly there are some things that we cannot know, while there are others things that we can be very confident about through God's word.
So the facts remain that the Bible claims to speak the truth about God, man, and salvation. The fact also remains that ideas are very important because they affect our relationships with people and our understanding of the value of people. And the fact remains that people often disagree, even to the point of breaking fellowship.
So is there a reason that justifies introducing ideas that could cause conflict between people? Is it right to jeopardize fellowship with a disagreement over truth? Wouldn't it be better to navigate the waters of conflict with compromise and negotiation in order to be at peace with all people?
Regarding painful circumstance Jesus records,
1) Therefore let's also, seeing we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, lay aside every weight and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let's run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2) looking to Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising its shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3) For consider him who has endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, that you don't grow weary, fainting in your souls.
Hebrews 12:1-3 (WEB)
Jesus did not enjoy pain for the sake of pain or conflict for the sake of conflict. He "endured the cross," but he did not like it! Instead he chose to endure the cross because of a greater goal beyond the cross, the joy set before him. And what was the joy set before him? The great victory he would win through paying the price for all mankind's sin, the awesome prize of the salvation of all mankind. Christ gently and resolutely held to the truth, at times offending every spectrum, from pagan to Pharisee, even to the loss of his life, because he chose to love us all. So is there a reason to endure conflict, jeopardize relationships, and even destroy friendships?
Yes, most certainly!
When Satan's lies or our hypocrisy obscures or ruins the much greater goal of God's love expressed for all mankind, then there is a reason to rock the boat. When relationships exclude God and the truth, they cannot endure for very long, and then there is a reason to tear down and rebuild on a solid foundation. When relationships are not built on the foundation of God's love for all mankind, then you will find you are "friends" with a nest of blind hypocrites... that will be disbanded.
So yes, Jesus said his ministry would bring a sword of division, but he also promises,
39) He who seeks his life will lose it; and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. 40) He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. 41) He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet's reward. He who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man will receive a righteous man's reward. 42) Whoever gives one of these little ones just a cup of cold water to drink in the name of a disciple, most certainly I tell you he will in no way lose his reward.
Matthew 10:39-42 (WEB)
Broken relationships are not Christ's goal, but exactly the opposite! He is working with self-centered hypocritical unbelieving sinners to build a self-less happy loving family with himself and mankind as the main ingredients. It is too big a challenge for us, but not for him. Meanwhile, he knows that things will get messy. So he invites us to join him in showing love to others even in small ways, like simply giving a cup of cold water to another, in His name. The cup of cold water I have for you and for any that will listen is simply this...
Jesus Christ is your savior, my savior, and the savior of all mankind.
I think you can see for yourself that this is a faithful message, the good news of the Bible. So the only relationships threatened by this truth are with those who disagree saying that God does not love all mankind. If friendships are destroyed over that good news, then of course that is sad. Thankfully, however, because of grace, God's patience, and repentance, it will not be sad forever. Forever friendship and fellowship is coming for ALL God's people, with God our Heavenly Father at the head of the table!
Find courage my friend to hold up the light!