Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Family Ties

family ties

And he answered them, "Who are my mother and my brothers?"
And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother."

Mark 3:33-35

The family of Jesus did not fully identify with His message and purposes. We know that they already held the view that He had gone a little nuts (Mark 3:21). Now, as they track down Jesus to speak with Him, He knows what they want, and uses the opportunity to talk about those who really are closest to Him… those who will follow Him.

I have to think that any disciple of any age gains comfort and courage from this statement from Jesus. Many of us have followed at the cost of family ties. It is routine for me as a pastor to offer guidance and counsel to those whose family members think their new commitment to Jesus is some sort of weird involvement in a religious cult meant to steal them away from all that is good. Following Jesus is a bit radical in that regard, and for those still caught up in Satan’s snare, seems really strange. Jesus said love for Him trumps all other earthly commitments to the point where our love for Him looks like non-love for our family by comparison.

I have seen what this does in foreign environments not as sympathetic to faith as my own. Muslim families in West Africa will disown a newly baptized family member. For that new believer, the church does become family in a very real way. For a new believer in secularized Europe, scorn and intellectual snobbishness my meet any public profession of their knowledge of Christ. Jesus’ words still hold true.

I believe that more and more, Christianity is marginalized by secularized America as well. Faith is seen as an irrational, unknowable, personal belief. Christianity is lumped in the same category as crystal healings, alien abductions, and conspiracy theorists. We are disparaged for lacking evidential knowledge. Nothing could be further from the truth, and living faith must stand up and reason with the family that scorns us. We do so lovingly, carefully, respectfully, and prayerfully that they too may come to repentance.

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