Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Blood is Thicker Than Water, But the Blood of Christ is Thicker Than All

One of the many amazing things about coming to Jesus is the new family you are grafted into. We have new brothers and sisters and new people to look up to and as we grow in the Lord, new people look up to us.  I love my church family.  Over the years, and especially since I met my wife and became more engaged with them, they have been an invaluable blessing.  When we come to Christ, our new family can and should be a tremendous blessing.  What does the Bible say, though, about our ancestral family?  What does the Bible say about who are family is once we are in the Lord?  Today I want to talk about how we, as Christians, should relate to our earthly families. 
First of all, let us read what Jesus says about our expanding family once in the Lord.
So Jesus answered and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel's, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life. "  Matthew 10:29-30 NKJV
When we come to Christ, we inherit a whole new family.  And how close should this family be?
Now all who believed were together, and had all things in common, and sold their possessions and goods, and divided them among all, as anyone had need. So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.  Acts 2:44-47 NKJV
Our family of God is called to be closer than any earthly family you may have.  In Matthew, Jesus alludes to leaving our earthly family for the sake of the Gospel, and Acts shows us just how close the family of God has become.  They sold everything they had and shared everything communally.  They also ate together, prayed together, praised God together, and did all with one accord.  They were one family together under the Lord, something we are called to do.
He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.  Matthew 10:37 NKJV
Our Lord needs to be more important to us than even our earthly parents or children.  Our Lord must always have top priority in our lives.  If we love anything more than our Lord, whatever that thing is, it has become our idol.  We are in sin as long as we love anything more than the Lord.  We are called to leave our parents to follow the Lord.
Then another of His disciples said to Him, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead."  Matthew 8:21-22 NKJV
We are called to leave everything, including our earthly families if necessary, in order to follow the Lord. 
So now let us put all of this together.  Many of us feel a certain obligation to our family after we come to the Lord.  We feel an obligation to help them even if it conflicts with our ministry.  We feel an obligation to spend holidays with them, even when we have a chance to spend with them with our family in the Lord.  We feel an obligation to still approve of the sin in their lives and sometimes to participate in that sin even after we are saved.  They may put much pressure on you to forsake a calling elsewhere to be with them, but that should never be.  Nothing should ever hold us back from serving where and how the Lord calls us.  Sometimes that means distancing ourselves physically and emotionally from our families, but that is the call of the Lord.  Sometimes that brings much strife and struggle within the family.  Too many times we acquiesce to keep the peace.  We forsake the calling of our Lord to keep the peace in our family.  Jesus tells us differently. 
Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to 'set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law'; and 'a man's enemies will be those of his own household.'  Matthew 10:34-36 NKJV
Your faith in Christ will bring strife to your unsaved family.  They may disown you if they belong to another faith, they may persecute you if they are caught up in sin, they may throw your faith in your face every time you make any kind of mistake.  They will throw it in our face whenever we choose the Lord over them.  That is our reality.  The temptation is to throw right back at them as we always did before we were saved, but we must not.  Following the Lord, regardless of how they say otherwise, is not a poor witness, but reacting in the flesh is.  We must remain in the spirit, keep them in prayer, and acknowledge that they just do not understand the hope that is in you.  In their fallen state, they can not begin to understand the relationship you now have in Christ. 
Sadly, families, even families who are Christian, often try to use our own faith against us.  They play on our guilt-strings and some even go so far as to call into question our witness.  Please know that the Lord knows all of this and if He is still calling you in spite of guilt and pressure, then He has a plan behind it. Sometimes our greatest source of persecution may be frim the ones who should love us the most, even if that family is also in the Lord.  Sometimes a Christian family may distance themselves from you if God calls you to another church.  I have seen this happen too many times.  The sin is not on your part in following God's call to another church, the sin is on the family for trying to put themselves between you and God.  It is a tragic sin when a Christian family tries to make themselves idols in your life.  
When we come to Christ, our familial relationships are turned on their head.  We suddenly have new mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers and we may lose the same from our earthly families.  Suddenly, our family is not the most important thing in our lives as the Lord takes His rightful place on the throne.  We must understand that whenever we put anything before our Lord (even our own earthly mother), we are making an idol for ourselves.  Jesus must always be first, even when it brings persecution from those we love the most.  Many times, we become even closer with our Christian brothers and sisters than we ever were with our earthly families.  The best times are when are earthly families are part of our family in the Lord, but even then we must be sure we never pressure them or acquiesce to their pressure to make that family our idol.  There is popular saying that blood is thicker than water, and we use that (even after coming to the Lord) to put our families above our Lord or anyone not blood related.  The fact is that blood may be thicker than water, but the blood of family is not thicker than the blood of Christ.  It is His blood that gives us our eternal life and all borne of the same blood are part of an eternal family, closer than anything imaginable here on earth.  Our closest family needs to be the family of God, united eternally by the blood of Jesus.  This must not be in word alone, but in deed as well.  We must live like we love the Lord more than our families in that we follow His call for our lives despite the fact that our earthly or even church families may disagree and we must accept the call of the Lord in the lives of others even if that means losing the companionship or fellowship of ones that we love.  We must also love those in the church like they are the closest family we have ever had.  We must life selflessly for our brothers and sisters in the Lord.  Jesus gave Himself for us and in that example we must give ourselves for them. 
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.  Philippians 2:1-4 NKJV

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