Why talk about the subject of family? Two reasons: 1) Because Americans – including professing Christian Americans, are genuinely interested in the subject. From a sociological perspective, studies on the family have produced over 50,000 books. From an identity perspective, over 70% of Americans see their identity (or commitment) to their biological family as more important than their race or their religion. The family clearly matters to Americans – including again, professing Christian Americans. It is their primary interest and their preferred identity. This leads directly to the second reason, 2) Jesus’ (and the NT writers’) view of family is not only very different but in most cases, diametrically opposed to the views of Americans -including once more, professing Christian Americans. This means if we are to continue as His legitimate followers –as well as defend against the flaky and false views of many who espouse to be Christian, we need to know the subject of family according to Jesus. Here (then) is what we need to know:
- Our baptism into Jesus places us into a new family.
1.1. (Gal 3:26-29)
1.2. Notice (first) that Paul sees baptism as the place of (saving/effectual) faith (v26 w/v27 “sons of God through faith…for as many of you were baptized into Christ have put on Christ”) = The place where your faith made you sons of God/where you put on Christ was in the waters of baptism.
1.3. According to the criteria of a family, our baptism places us in a new family: 1) family designation (v26 “sons of God”) = All those in Christ are now children of the same Father irrespective of our biological origins/sociological distinctions (v28), 2) common ancestor (v29).
- Since baptism makes us members of the church, the church represents our new family.
(Acts 2:41 “were baptized and there were added” [to the church] that day about three thousand souls”).
- The church family – not the biological family, is the greatest institution created by God.
3.1. (Act 20:28) = Christ died for the church family –not the biological family. It should therefore be obvious that the family created by Jesus is infinitely greater (and more important) than the one created by you.
3.2. The church btw is the only institution that Jesus promised would not be overridden by the gates of Hell (Mat 16:18). Biological families fail all the time b/c of sin and Satan. But Christ’s church will never fail. Wisdom, therefore, dictates that biological families put their focus on being faithful to the church as this (once more) is the only family under divine protection.
- To follow Jesus, a person must demonstrate loyalty to Him and His church over their biological family.
4.1. (Luk 14:25-26)
4.2. You cannot be loyal to Jesus without being loyal to His church (1 Jo 1:6-7 w/2:10-11 w/15 w/4:7-8, 20-21) = To have fellowship w/ – or be loyal to (“love”), Jesus (or “God”) requires that a person be loyal to (“love”) their church family (or spiritual “brother”).
4.3. We are to demonstrate loyalty to the church to the same degree as Jesus, there is no limit to the level of sacrifice or suffering we are willing to endure to remain together (1Jo3:16; Joh 15:12-13; Consider also Joh 21:15-19 and Rom 8:35-39). Contrary to the view of the world, Scripture never calls for such love in relation to one’s biological family. Though we are called to care for them, never are we called to die for them (including our wives or children).
4.4. That God expects our loyalty to our church family to be more than what is given to our biological families is seen in the example of Ananias and Sapphira. Sapphira dies b/c of her loyalty to her husband over her loyalty to the church. She lied and covered for him rather than exposing and condemning his sins before the church (Act 5:1-11).
4.5. Putting God and the covenant community above one’s biological family is the reason God gave the highest honor (or privilege) of leading and teaching His people to the tribe of Levi (Deu 33:9 = A reference to Exo 32:26-29 and the golden calf incident where the Levites ran the through the camp executing anyone -including biological family, who was guilty of idolatry).
- Jesus only recognized as family those who were obedient to God.
- Jesus predicted that His demands (including His views on the church family) would cause division (or separation) between many Christians and their biological families.
(Mat 10:34-36; Luk 12:51-53)
- Jesus’ biological family was disturbed by His radical view of family.
7.1. Jesus’ biological family thought His loyalty to the covenant community/church family over them (His biological family) to be a sign that He was crazy (Mar 3:20-21) = In ancient culture, it was expected that you would spend your feasting or fellowship times w/your biological family (e.g. Job 1:13). Rarely – and usually only for altruistic reasons, did you ever spend time with outsiders or have them in your house (e.g. Gen 24:29-61, v29-31). When Jesus’ biological family (mother and brothers – 3:31) heard that His house was filled with people who were not His biological family – and this is who spending the majority of His time w/ (i.e. these were the ones He was treating most like family), they thought He had gone crazy (“He is out of His mind”) since the only people who put outsiders before their biological family were those in cults (i.e. those who had been brainwashed – again, were now crazy). Their actions in going to Jesus’ house and demanding to speak w/Him are an attempt to do what today we call “an intervention” [def. an occasion on which a person with an addiction or other behavioral problem is confronted by a group of friends or family members in an attempt to persuade them to address the issue.).
7.2. We should (therefore) not be “surprised” that the world hates us (or thinks we are crazy/brainwashed) b/c of our love (or loyalty) to our church family. (1Jo 3:13-14 –Given the context, the “world” would include our biological families; See also Joh 15:17-18).
7.3. A clear indication that you are still operating/thinking like the “wicked” of this world (and need to repent and renew your mind before it’s too late), is that you (also) find your “portion” (or prize) in your biological family. IOW: you are more loyal to them than you are to the church (Psa 17:13-15).
- Jesus indicated that our practice of His radical view of family would be one of the clearest signs to the world that we are His disciples.
(Joh 13:34-35) = In a world filled with people professing to be disciples of Christ, it can be difficult to tell who is legitimate (and who is not). In these verses, Jesus reveals one of the clearest signs for determining who are His true followers. Do they practice His radical view of family (love/loyalty to the church over the biological family)?
CLOSING CONTEMPLATION: DO YOU PRACTICE JESUS’ RADICAL VIEW OF FAMILY?