Today I want to talk about our church family and the family of God, because I recently read this passage about Jesus’ family and it made me think.
When you watch a beautiful family, it’s incredibly inspiring, isn’t it? If you’re blessed to have one of those, it’s a really amazing thing; but there are also families which are very painful.
The very same people who are supposed to be a safe family connection in a loving space can be very hurtful, so in family we experience pain and frustration. Sometimes we even experience abuse in our family.
Because our views of family can be broken, in order for your church to be a good family, it’s going to take God’s hand at work.
Do you know what God reminds me of, when I get discouraged about how to create a healthy and good church family? That he has been faithful in this area of my life.
My husband and I have a blended family. We’ve been married almost 13 years, and when that happened, Jim and I, Jim’s two daughters and my son and two daughters came together as a family. Blended families come with all kinds of baggage, and we had that too. It took us several years to even try to be in the same room and be okay with each other.
We had to be intentional with a lot of prayer and a lot of God’s hand for this family to come together and become some sort of a family. On top of our own blendedness, four of our children are married. Jim’s two oldest daughters married men who already had children, so our grandchildren are blended too.
We call ourselves the “smoothie family” because there are so many different parts, but God has done something amazing in our family. I can’t tell you our family is perfect. There are all kinds of issues still because, again, we came together in a way that is not the way God intended, but God in his sovereignty has been able to do something beautiful in our family.
So, you know my story of family and what God has done. But what is the family of God supposed to look like and how should we be that beautiful family?
“Then Jesus entered a house, and again a crowd gathered, so that he and his disciples were not even able to eat. When his family heard about this, they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind.’ And the teachers of the law who came down from Jerusalem said, ‘He is possessed by Beelzebul! By the prince of demons he is driving out demons.’
So Jesus called them over to him and began to speak to them in parables: ‘How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan opposes himself and is divided, he cannot stand; his end has come. In fact, no one can enter a strong man’s house without first tying him up. Then he can plunder the strong man’s house. Truly I tell you, people can be forgiven all their sins and every slander they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; they are guilty of an eternal sin.’
He said this because they were saying, ‘He has an impure spirit.’ Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.’ ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’” Mark 3
Notice that Jesus’ family does not understand this idea of the family of God. They don’t see what Jesus is doing. They think he has lost his mind. Already, Jesus had a reputation and it wasn’t always good.
They also attributed Jesus’ work to Satan and not to God, which is why Jesus makes this huge statement: “Those who blaspheme the Holy Spirit cannot be forgiven.” They’re not just rejecting Jesus; they’re rejecting God and what God is doing.
Notice that Jesus’ mother and his brothers are outside. They’re not sitting around Jesus. They’re not hearing from Jesus. Mark is making a very clear insider-outsider picture for us. Throughout his gospel, Mark makes it clear those who were on the outside were the ones who did not understand all Jesus was doing (the ones who questioned him).
I understand why Jesus’ brothers might have been on the outside, because what would it take for you to believe your brother is the Son of God? But Jesus’ mother, the one who was pregnant by the power of the Holy Spirit, who heard these incredible promises about her son, who watched her son grow up in wisdom and stature, who saw him do some miracles – why would she be on the outside? Jesus’ calling was not always clear to those who were even the closest to him.
Now what is Jesus going to do?
He says, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” It sounds disrespectful, doesn’t it? It sounds a bit harsh to say that. When Jesus is told his mother and his brothers are outside, it seems like he really doesn’t care. He seems strangely unconcerned they’re outside and worried about him. Does it almost feel like he disowned his family?
I don’t think so. We see in Scripture when Jesus was on the cross he cared for his mother. He told James, “Take care of your mother.” But, whenever Jesus answers a tough question with a question, he’s about to reveal a powerful truth. Check out verse 34:
“Then he [Jesus] looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’”
Jesus’ life and mission revolve around doing the will of God, so he is saying, “Those who are my family are those who are doing the will of God just as I am.”
The word there for will is thelēma which means God’s desire, God’s heart, what God wants us to do.
That word, thelēma, is about a deep desire, and the only way for us to be able to do what God desires is we have to know him. Jesus reveals something quite remarkable here, doesn’t he? There is now an eternal and spiritual family that supersedes our family of origin. When we receive Jesus in our hearts by faith, we’re born again into this spiritual family, a family that lasts forever, and the love we have for each of the members of the family needs to be greater than the love we share with our earthly family, with our family of origin.
Ephesians 2 says, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household…”
We are part of Jesus’ household. We are brothers and sisters. This is where our phrase “church family” comes from – we are all part of God’s family.
I hope that this is encouraging for you – no matter what kind of family you come from today. Lean into your spiritual family, your church family. Let the love of Jesus create a new family through your brothers and sisters in Christ, and maybe you will even see redemption in your earthly family as well, as Jim and I have.
Father, I pray for my brothers and sisters, for the glue that binds us together, which is your blood. Father, continue to lead us closer and closer to you, that we might be in your inner circle as your children. Draw us close and let us experience the beauty of a real church family and spiritual family this week in our lives. In Jesus’ name, amen.