Babylon, an ancient city in the Bible known for its wickedness, has become a symbol for all that is in rebellion in any culture, against the one, true God.
Active grace and truth are the lifestyle pillars of every Christian who longs to be light and salt in an ever-darkening world.
Who are you avoiding or not speaking to right now in your circle of family and friends because you don’t want to argue anymore about current events? Are you cut off from family members with whom you disagree? Is the list of off-limit topics of conversation steadily growing in your extended family? If you are not experiencing this personally, I’ll bet you know the stories of people who are.
For many people, family relationships are strained or completely broken because of the polarization of views we see occurring in our culture. Warm relationships reduced to icy encounters. This is a primary goal of the humanistic, Babylonian mindset, to destroy God’s design for family and relationship. Every day, through media, entertainment, politics and education there are factions pounding out ideas designed to tear families apart, not strengthen them.
As I try to understand this season of God, my sense is that this polarization may continue for a while, getting worse before it gets better, and we rally around a common cause again. Meanwhile, once a relationship is fractured, the more time that passes, the harder it is to repair.
For people who do not have a personal relationship with God, fractured relationships are everyday life. They expect relationships to break. They give and get cold shoulders. They expect a boyfriend or girlfriend to dump them via text. They avoid people who disagree with them and hang with people who do. That’s how Babylon works. That is not how God’s kingdom works.
Christian families who are currently divided over the same things the world is, need to get their houses in order. Division, strife, grudges, cold shoulders, and such, are all stuff of this world. They are not part of the unseen kingdom. When we as believers choose to line up our thoughts, speech, and behavior with Babylon instead of the Bible, by default we are agents acting against God’s purposes.
In God’s economy, the pain and consequences of disunity far outweigh the degree of angst involved in slogging through difficult conversations. The kind that are required to authentically understand an opposing point of view. Lovingly agreeing to disagree. Reestablishing common ground and then moving forward together. Our biological and adoptive families are determined by God. It grieves him when we cut people out of our lives based on things like who they vote for or choices they make about their own health. God has his reasons for planting you and me in a certain clump of people.
Disagreements are inevitable and healthy. They challenge us to be clear about why we believe what we believe and can help us see when we’ve got the wrong end of the stick on something. I am seeing far too many people distance themselves from family members simply over things like who they voted for in the last election or choices they’ve made about their own health. That’s not disagreement, that’s divisiveness and destruction and it hurts God’s heart.
In Galatians 5:15, the apostle Paul says to believers, “But if you are always biting and devouring one another, watch out! Beware of destroying one another.” Destroying. One. Another. What are our modern-day versions of biting and devouring one another?
Trying to impose your opinions and takes on situations to people who are not asking for your opinion
Looking down on people who are on “the other side” of a viewpoint
Being dismissive of opposing viewpoints, instead of patiently listening to the heart behind the words
Hurting people who disagree with you by unfriending them on social media, cutting them out of family gatherings and staying away from events that are important to them
Gossiping with people on your side of the fence about people on the other side
Please understand how much Satan loves all this junk and feeds off it. Understand that much spiritual power is drained away from a family in disunity. Understand that the wounds that polarization creates are not easily healed.
You and I do not have to agree about vaccinations, elections, or lots of other issues to successfully fight side by side against Satan’s legions. But we do need to be in unity. We do not need to see eye to eye on all this stuff that’s dividing our world right now. We need to move forward, hand in hand.
My challenge to you and your family today is to take a quick assessment, based on the opening questions of this article. Are you unintentionally cooperating with Babylon? Are you at loving peace with your family and extended family even though you disagree with one another? If your family is fractured right now, there is work to be done that starts in your prayer closet. Here are six suggestions for healing family fractures.
Get real with God and repent of whatever part you played in creating the break, even if you think your part is 1% of what happened.
Ask God for wisdom, discernment, skill, and insight on how to win back the hearts you’ve wounded or are closed off to you.
Accept that some people will refuse to be at peace with you, for now. They may continue in divisive behavior. That is not your circus or your monkey. Your role, as a holy child of God, is to keep a peaceable mind towards them, speaking truth in love where God gives opportunity.
Lead with an apology for your part in the breaking and ask for their forgiveness. It’s called humility.
If God leads, ask them to help you understand their viewpoint better. Ask God to help you hear the heart behind the opinions and beliefs. They may be authentically misinformed about things and do not realize it. It’s not my job or yours to “set them straight,” if they are not looking to you for wisdom or answers, though.
If you already understand their viewpoint, respect their right to choose it no matter how wrong you think it might be. People can sense when you are looking down on their choices. You can be sad about their choices but don’t allow yourself feelings of superiority.
The family is God’s gift to this broken world. Christian families are supposed to help lost people understand better how the family of God works and attract them to the Heavenly Father. How do we do that if we are as polarized as they are?
If you don’t need repairs in your own family, please pray for your friends who are suffering deep heartache over their divided loved ones. If you’ve never experienced it, it’s difficult to understand the deep sorrow it can create. It can be heart crushing.
Let’s do what we can to put our family houses in order. Let Babylon fall and allow grace to rise in your relationships. When that is done, let’s get after those friendships that have gone akimbo for the same reasons. Who do you need to get right with today?