March 24, 2014
Mark 3: 31-35
There are few wounds that cut deeper than those inflicted on us by our families. I have known plenty of otherwise strong and accomplished adults who still carry in their spirit the pain of broken relationships with parents, siblings, or children.
This is an indication of how important the family is in God’s plan for humanity. The family is the single most important socializing agent in a person’s life. Families are also hugely important when it comes to evangelism. Most (though clearly not all) of the people in our church came to the faith primarily through the influence of family.
That’s why the church needs to come alongside families to encourage and equip them in their ministry to each other. Yesterday in worship we celebrated the dedication of a young child. It was a beautiful occasion as the child’s parents and the entire congregation stood as a sign of their covenant with one another to raise the child in the faith and to point him to Jesus.
But let’s be clear: The nuclear family is not the end-all-be-all of the kingdom of God. Jesus didn’t come into the world just so we can all have 2.5 kids and a white picket fence. As today’s reading makes clear, there is a wider family that transcends and even takes precedent over the blood relations that tie us to each other. Jesus says that the true family consists of all those who do the will of the Father.
If you are blessed to have been nurtured into the world through a healthy family unit, then know that your experience among those people is not meant to be an end unto itself. It is meant to point you to the wider and greater reality of God’s kingdom family, and to the nurture that only He can provide. If, on the other hand, you have experienced pain or enmity at the hands of family, then know that there is a wider and greater reality of God’s kingdom family, and that the nurture you need can only truly come from Him. As Psalm 68:5-6a reminds us, “A father to the fatherless, defender of the widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.”
Next Sunday in worship we will observe an even greater celebration of family. We will baptize someone who has come forward to become a disciple of Jesus and a member of His family. He will become one of us, as surely as if we had brought him home from the maternity ward.
Despite what others may say, water is thicker than blood.
Lord God, thank you for taking us from our alienation and loneliness and placing us in your family. Help me today to nurture the bonds that I have with my brothers and sisters of the faith. May I never take them for granted. Through Christ, Amen.