I’m sure your family is just like mine. We can be kindhearted to each other and get along, but we can also be inconsiderate and fall out. We say nice things one minute, but then criticize behind the other person’s back the next minute. In a crisis, when we should pull together, stress often seems to tear us apart.

Jesus knew all about families. After all, he was part of one. And it seems like he and his brothers didn’t always agree (John 7:1-10).  

So, it should be no surprise Jesus knew his spiritual family would have problems, too, because, well frankly, we’re human!

During his last hours on earth, Jesus prayed for his spiritual brothers and sisters—for his followers at that time and all people who believe in him, which includes you and me.

He specifically prayed for our unity—that they may be one as we [Jesus and his Father] are one (John 17:22). By this, Jesus did not mean we have to be alike, but that we should be joined together in love for one another.

But I am giving you a new command. You must love each other, just as I have loved you.

John 13:34 CEV

Our reactions

When we think about individuals within our family or church family, how do you feel about them? Is there someone who pops into your mind who you don’t get on well with?

Notice the emotions rising up inside you. Are you patience with him or her? Have you been kind and gentle towards that person? Do you want to build them up? Or, do you wish to tear them down, just a little? Do you sense any anger or “he/she makes me so mad” kind of reaction? 

We may often feel justified in our feelings towards them. It could be that their behavior makes it hard for us to be tolerant, let alone love them.

Jesus didn’t pray for us to be united so we would just be one big, happy family. Instead, he knew showing patience, kindness, compassion, gentleness—our love for each other—was essential if other people were going to be drawn to him.

The Bible reminds us our struggle is not with other people. It is instead a spiritual batter. We are fighting against the powers of darkness.

We are not fighting against humans. We are fighting against forces and authorities and against rulers of darkness and powers in the spiritual world.

Ephesians 6:12 CEV

Let’s not let these powers get a foothold in our family, physical or spiritual.

yOur Response

Lord God,

In all my relationships I ask you to help:

Where there is conflict, replace it with peace.

Where there is sadness, replace it with joy.

Where there is agitation, replace it with patience, 

Where there is meanness, replace it with kindness, 

Where there is cruelty, replace it with compassion, 

Where there is harshness, replace it with gentleness, 

Where there is lying, replace it with truth,

Where there is rashness, replace it with self-control.

Where there is hatred, replace it with love.

So I can become more like Jesus. Amen

Photo by Isaac Quesada on Unsplash

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