“Not…Peace, but a Sword”
Why is it, O God, that few things in life are more divisive than religion? Why is it that few things in life create more conflict than differences in religious conviction and practice?
We confess the arrogance and presumption that cause us to assume that our way is necessarily better than someone else’s way. We acknowledge the simple faith in you that is the life preserver to which we must cling when we begin to wade into deep theological differences and discussions with someone whose perspective is different; inspire us to offer to share our life preserver with our opponents rather than to try to drown them in the deep waters that could, after all, drown us, too.
At the same time, protect us from foolish thinking that would lead us to believe that other people, even—and maybe especially—those to whom we are closest will necessarily be pleased at our way of living and will be kindly disposed toward us so that all will be well.
Remind us that it is not necessarily that way; remind us that the good news of Jesus Christ with all its love and grace creates opposition and conflict even among families because, for reasons that are a mystery to us, the good news doesn’t sound good to some and changed lives, even lives that are changed for the better, don’t always go over well with those who are used to us being another way, even a much worse way.
But God, if we must encounter opposition from people, even people who are close to us, let it be not because we seek it but because it is the inevitable result of a legitimate and humble faith; please do not let conflict arise because we are pompous, superior, or arrogant in our supposed faith.
Finally, God, please help those people in lands and in situations for whom conflict with families because of their Christian faith is a very real, very hurtful, and even very dangerous situation.
“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 one’s foes will be members of one’s own household.” (Matthew 10:34-36)