My posts come from my personal daily scripture readings and a part of my personal accountability. If we are going to grow as followers of Christ, we must be in the Word! If you miss these a few days, something has kept me from it; but if they're gone for too many days, call me on the carpet. We need to hold one another accountable. Join me on this journey as our lives are to Reflect the Image-and Jesus IS the image. Peace, Carla Sunberg
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What Is Family?
Some of our dear Russian “family.” Мы вас любим!
Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”
(Mark 3:31–35 NRSV)
Just a few verses previous Jesus’ family appears to try and rescue him from his apparent insanity. Now, we find them standing outside the house where he is teaching. Maybe, again, they are trying to get him and take him home. More than likely his teaching was having a negative effect on them all and they felt it was time to simply take him home.
Jesus uses this scene as a teachable moment. Normally, your next of kin, your relatives, would be found in physical proximity. Jesus redefines family within the kingdom of God. He looks at those near to him and identifies them as his mother and brothers. Then, he adds the clarifier, viewing kingdom life as that of a new creation family with mother, sister and brother.
This redefinition of family is one which we seldom contemplate. Far too often, I believe, Christianity has focused on the redemption of the traditional family. While that is an important concept, Jesus broadens our thinking and helps us look beyond the structures which may be created and adopted by culture, both inside and outside the church. There is something that is supposed to happen within the community of faith, where believers become like family, brothers and sisters together in serving the Lord.
I’ve experienced this type of family in different ways in my life. As a missionary kid I never lived anywhere near my relatives. My grandparents in Nebraska were people that I saw when I was two, and then again when I was six. It was my church that became my family. My German grandmother helped to raise me while my parents were busy working in the life of the church. It was okay because I felt loved, safe and secure. My brother, Kurt, had his own German grandma. We each sat with our “grandmothers” during church on Sunday and they made sure that we behaved.
Later in life my husband and I served as missionaries in Russia. It was there that our children learned about the incredible church community which helped to raise them. They had their Russian babushkas at church on Sundays who were always willing to tell them what they did wrong. However, it was in that chiding that the girls knew that they were loved. They also learned that if you were ever in a dangerous situation, seek out a babushka because she would protect you! Other missionaries, pastors and leaders took on the role of aunt and uncle, brothers and sisters in the family.
It’s in this nurturing environment of fellow believers that we find real family. True family is a place where each is encouraged to live a life in the pursuit of virtue. We spur one another on to become more like Christ! This becomes the focus of the “family of God.”
Sometimes, I fear, the nuclear family can actually get in the way of our spiritual development. Commitments to closed family dinners and activities exclude those within our church family. The single members of the church community often stand at the sidelines and wonder where this family that Jesus talked about really exists.
Jesus is pointing us to a loyalty that goes far beyond that of our earthly family. The thing about Jesus is that if we spend much time with him, he will force us to question our comfort zones. We will be challenged to consider what we really value as family and whether our church communities are willing to embrace who Jesus places before us.
Lord, I am so grateful for those who have been family in my life. May I welcome with open arms those who near. Amen.
Rom. 6:22 But now that you have been freed from sin and enslaved to God, the advantage you get is sanctification. The end is eternal life. Rom. 6:23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Two sides of life are presented here in great contrast. One is a life of sin and enslavement to evil. The other side of life is freedom which provides the advantage of sanctification (or holiness as some translate the word) that leads to eternal life. The options here are a life of sin, slavery and death; or freedom, holiness and eternal life.
The advantage of holiness or sanctification is the benefit of the life of freedom. Jesus died so that we might be made holy like him and this is something that is offered as a “fruit” or “advantage” right now. The end is eternal life — but the living of life is that it can be lived out in holiness.
The next verse is really just an affirmation of the verse 22. Sin will lead …
Ex. 33:4 ¶ When the people heard these harsh words, they mourned, and no one put on ornaments. Ex. 33:5 For the LORD had said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You are a stiff-necked people; if for a single moment I should go up among you, I would consume you. So now take off your ornaments, and I will decide what to do to you.’” Ex. 33:6 Therefore the Israelites stripped themselves of their ornaments, from Mount Horeb onward.
The people had sinned before God by making and worshiping the golden calf! They had taken their golden jewelry — the earrings and other items they had gotten from the Egyptians and used them to create an idol. Now, in an act of humility and repentance they were to take off all of their jewelry and ornaments. It was a time of mourning over their sin and it included intentional action on the part of the Israelites. Application:
We don’t do all that well with humility and repentance! It seems that we live in a time when we try to carry on…
Scripture: Mark 8:31 Then he began to teach them that the Son of Man must undergo great suffering, and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. 32 He said all this quite openly. And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. 33 But turning and looking at his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are setting your mind not on divine things but on human things.” Observation:
Peter had openly declared that Jesus was the Messiah when suddenly the conversation shifted to suffering, rejection and death. With his affirmation of Jesus as Messiah, Peter had brought with him all of the connotations of that term. Jesus was to be a great military leader, a Davidic Messiah, who would save the people from the earthly authorities. Jesus’ description was a paradigm that didn’t fit into Peter’s thinking.
Peter’s rebuke of Jesus was severe. The language reflects a long and unpleasant conversation. The…