In a post on sexuality, I tried to describe reproduction in light of the double bond of love which it uses to weave the human family together. But it must be noted that the tapestry of history and of humanity is tangled and ravaged by death, resentment, violence, and rejection. One need only think of the difficulties of a Thanksgiving dinner, the Israel-Palestine feud, or of the recent events in Orlando to see how radically we are set against one another.
The Scriptures recognize this state of war in which we find and place ourselves, and it is in this light, in enmity to one another and in enmity to God Himself that we might read Matthew 10:
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to turn
‘a man against his father,
a daughter against her mother,
a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—
36 a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.
Christ inaugurates an era of a new and radical enmity, not the enmity of hatred and vengeance, or of suspicion and fear, but the enmity of sin apart from the sinner. Only in the Spirit of this kind of enmity can one truly love his neighbor. It is in this Spirit that we are called to love and pray for our enemies. This new era will bring about a True Thanksgiving Feast at which we will delight in seeing every face at the table, even and perhaps especially those who grieved us the most in this life.
He accomplishes this, not by ‘making us get along’, but by first, in his own flesh, suffering the pain and alienation of our sin and division. He himself tears down the greatest dividing wall which separated us from Him and in doing so provides a new unity in which none will experience alienation because of race, gender, nation, or earthly family (Ephesians 2:11-22).
An Image of the New Family
Pastor Nate Shurden did a wonderful job describing how the David story provides us with just such a redemptive image when David seeks out the fallen members of household Saul. You can listen to the sermon by clicking the audio link above.
When a king comes into power, it is not unusual for him to slay all the remaining relatives of the former ruler’s family. For instance, when the Frankish ruler Clovis came into power he publicly lamented his lack of family. He claimed he would be glad that such relatives might be found and brought to him, but he did this only that he might murder them and ensure the security of his own crown.
In contrast, David asked in earnest, “Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?” (2nd Samuel 9:1). In doing so, David embodies the divine mercy (I will show mercy unto whom I will show mercy) when he spares the grandson of King Saul, provides him with wealth, and even a seat at his own table.
Pastor Shurden goes on to show how this is but an image of Supper of the Lamb at which those who were once enemies of God are invited to sup at the divine table and even be served by the Master Himself.
The chiastic and cruciform nature of this new family of God and this new and altogether greater tapestry shines forth in the Scriptures. They are God’s peculiar form of redemptive weaving, and they remind us “that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.”