Families come in different forms and sizes, some may have extended family members besides their blood-line siblings, due to divorce and remarriage, some may have only one person in their family life, which is usually the case as we age and look back at how many have passed away. As little kids, our families were so huge and there were so many of us you couldn’t count them. Most recently you begin to notice that all those young folks we palled around with have either gotten married or moved out of city and state and we feel a great degree of loneliness as our families grow apart, faster than we expected, or wanted.
Many of us try to hang onto these relationships as best we can, remembering (or trying to recapture) the fond memories of times gone by; the family gatherings, the food, the games, the fun and laughter, those most precious moments of innocence gone by. We are a nostalgic bunch, trying to hold onto these memories, most of the time trying to relive them as best we can, sensing they are not really the same, yet we follow that yellow brick road in hopes of recapturing that magic. But, sorry Toto, this just isn’t Kansas anymore.
Now, in today’s fast paced society, we are caught up too much with duties such as jobs, schooling, domestic chores, trying to bring new excitement to our latest love affair, hanging on desperately to any form of affection, dealing with the lives of our children and their children, hoping for the best, kneeling down at night (OK, laying in our beds) and whispering to God words of desperate need, hope and maybe some thanksgiving!
Sometimes (if we stay quiet enough and try to listen to that still small voice of God) we may receive an instant answer to the pain, exhaustion and many times frustration we experienced in the last 12 to 18 hours. Some do not experience any of this, by either drinking down that last shot of vodka, a six-pack or that (legitimate) capsule of medicine called ambien, valium, vicodin, darvocet or the less addicting Tylenol.
Then, suddenly, that little voice whispers in your ear, and asks you, “Who is your true family?"
“Well, “ you say, “ there are my kids Freddie, Mary, Greg, Robert, my uncle Ignacio, my aunt Porfidia, my mother Eunice and my father Guadalupe, my sister-in-law Laquisha, her husband Mortimer, and of course my brother Nguyen Bong.
“How many of them are my disciples and daily follow me?” that voice further queries?
“Well, most of them, I think, except for Dad, who says ‘those Christians’ are a bunch of religious fanatics and I don’t want to hear anything about them!'”
Guess what? A time is already here where a line in the sand has been drawn and each of us has to make a decision: a choice between who is our true family. Is it our blood relatives, or those who God calls His Family of Believers? You may say to yourself that you will never be placed in the position to have to make this decision, but the fact remains is that you will soon have to make that choice. Not the choice where you have to kick out of the house a child, uncle or spouse to the curb because they don’t believe in Jesus Christ; but the choice of prioritizing your life where an unbelieving relative does not impinge your own walk with Christ.
Jesus told us that the day is coming when “Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child; children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death, (Matthew 10:21).
Whoa! That is some heavy stuff! Our kids could rebel enough to the point they will become part of an entity that would persecute us unto death? Well, this concept is not a new one. During the Second World War, many young German soldiers were trained from infancy to spy upon their parents and report to the authorities whatever information they could find concerning clandestine efforts against the Hitler regime.
Those parents were later executed for their efforts and their children received great rewards. The above scripture is telling us that a day is coming when the disciples of God will be betrayed by their own children and turned in to the existing (dictatorial) authorities of that time in order to exterminate them. This scripture does not describe just kids turning against their parents, but brother against brother and fathers against their own kids! But, why? Why should this be so? Believe it or not (based upon the following scripture) Jesus is telling us that His purpose for coming to earth was not only to suffer the passion and surrender His life on the cross to pay for our sins, He did so for us to choose sides, His or the forces of evil!
Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law, (Luke 12:51-53).
Throughout history, those who call themselves Christian have believed and trusted scripture that speaks of the love of God, one who forgives sin, who is patient and not wanting anyone to perish. But, yet, (based on the above scriptures) it plainly states we must choose between Him and everything and everyone who is important in our lives, including close friends and blood relatives. Many quickly say, “If this be so, then I cannot, nor will I ever choose against my family because I love them tremendously. Besides, who wants to serve a God who would ask such a thing? Nevertheless, this is a choice we have to make.”
Personally, I don’t believe God is saying to turn against our family, but it appears that He wants to know if push comes to shove are we prepared to do so! This theme is repeated in the Book of Matthew, where it states:
Everyone therefore who acknowledges me before others, I also will acknowledge before my Father in heaven. Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter whoever denies me before others, I also will deny before my Father against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and one's foes will be members of one's own household. (Matthew 10:32-36).
Once again, these scripture appear to paint an extremely harsh picture of Jesus Christ. For Him to make us choose between our family members and Him is the most ridiculous burden to place on the shoulders of any human being. But, if examined very carefully, this request should not really be that difficult if all our family members were all in accord with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It would (or shouldn’t) pose any problems for a family of two or a family of five hundred if all were committed to the gospel and all were lights and salt in their respective community. It would mean that all of our family members were in one accord, practicing the religion that Christ states is ‘true’ religion,’ by responding to the cry from those next door neighbors who suffer tremendously more so than we.
It requires that all family members be willing to sacrifice and put others before themselves. It requires the daily practice of living a life in the spirit and not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. It means recognizing that we need to outright reject the acts of the sin, which include sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. Christ has forever warned us that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God.
If we are true disciples of Christ, we cannot just honor Him with our lips and deny the calling. We cannot say, “Yes, I am a Christian” and then turn around and commit those very same acts that go contrary to His will!
Remember, the above are not the only actions that go against Christ, so do pride, over indulgence while others go without, vanity, haughtiness and……yes, lack of true faith!
Therefore, choosing between Jesus Christ and family members is not as loathsome an act of which we over-reacted; if anything else, it behooves us to reach out and bring into the fold our brothers and our sister, mothers, fathers, daughters and sons, grandchildren, each and everyone connected to our hearts, to encourage them to become an active part in the true family of Christ. Not just in proclaiming we are disciples of Jesus Christ, but behaving and walking in like-minded manner of His true Holy Family!
And who are His true family?
The last words Jesus spoke to His relatives before he was crucified are more profound than we realize. He could have said something like, “Remember me always,” or “Trust me,” or “Have no fear, I will be near,” or “I shall return.” But He didn’t. His last words tell us and clearly defines who we are, and that his true family is to do the will of God:
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