‘On the other side of the sword.’
For many of us the transition into church life was gradual. Non-Christian friends and family may have reacted respectably but had their silent reservations. Some may have hoped that we might ‘get over it,’ some taking polite interest, some ignoring us, and some may have also become Christians. It is those with convictions contrary to the ones that we have converted to who will react adversely. Emotions can run high as irreconcilable differences are brought to light. Compromise can only go so far. Though, common beliefs are appreciated, they end where conflict begins.
Jesus said that his Kingdom teachings would bring divisions: He warned, “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Mt.10:34). New Christians take this very seriously. And rightly so. They understand that believing in Jesus is disbelieving anyone else. The religion of family, friends and fellow countrymen are on the other side of the sword. They are boldly cutting themselves adrift by forsaking all for the truth of Christ. Being able to relate to others who experience persecution in conversion can be purely academic for us. Who among us were cast out of a devout Muslim home when becoming a Christian, never to return? Who among us endured rabid atheists bent on the extinction of any belief in God? Who among us have lost the love and respect of a family who believe we have become ‘religious nutters?’
And finally, who among us have friends and family who consider that we have been brainwashed by a cult—anxious to have us de-programmed by a local psychologist? This is lonely territory. A lot of hands-on fellowship is needed. Friendships must be deliberately forged. A lot of time filled with studying the Word, praying, worshiping, listening, talking, eating, visiting, youth events, church picnics, church camps, hanging out and reaching out. The new brother and sister goes through a massive ‘culture shock’ as they integrate into the family of God—the church. All of us are called to action. It would do us all well to drop our distractions and share the blessings. Blessings we have so long taken for granted since we left life ‘On the other side of the sword.’