After this, Jesus traveled around Galilee. He wanted to stay out of Judea, where the Jewish leaders were plotting his death. 2 But soon it was time for the Jewish Festival of Shelters, 3 and Jesus’ brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, where your followers can see your miracles!4 You can’t become famous if you hide like this! If you can do such wonderful things, show yourself to the world!” 5 For even his brothers didn’t believe in him. John 7:1-5 (NLT)
Family is often a great blessing, an un-Godly distraction, and, next to God, resides closest in my heart. Today it is the family that I was born into (parents, siblings, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc), who have my prayers and meditation. They are the family I had no choice to be a part. They are part of my life and influenced me as a child and still do even now as I enter into the group of what I used to call senior saints.
Blessings. Many spend time and money researching their ancestry to find where they come from. The influence of parents, grandparents and siblings can be profound in a life and it is a blessing to find a legacy of faith and commitment to God. And when hard times come, a family that circles and holds together is a special blessing.
However, few have such families. Most people I know and observe find themselves dealing with petty conflicts that change holiday gatherings from Norman Rockwell portraits to Bart Simpson snapshots. Faith is challenged, doubted and ridiculed. This is especially true if you have taken a prodigal son path and upon returning to a committed life with Jesus Christ, it is family who are the last to believe that you have really changed.
My witness. Oh, how often I have joined in praying for a lost family member! The desire to witness to a father, sister, or cousin and see them come to accept Jesus as Savior is heavy on many hearts. The reality of that burden is rarely does a person come to their faith through the repeated attempts of a family member. Occasionally there is a success when we keep our mouths shut, allowing the testimony of how we live our lives speak with the voice of the Holy Spirit. It is our prayers affirming how much God loves our relative even more than we do and asking God to continue His work in their lives that brings the larger harvest.
Choose wisely. How hard it is to deal with conflict in a family to God and heed His wisdom to let go and move on, trusting Him to bring restoration in His time. We must not allow our family conflicts to keep us from answering God’s call on our lives and being obedient to where He wants us to serve and how He wants us to serve. It is obedience to God which must come first.
Jesus asked,“Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?”49 Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 50 Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” Matthew 12:48-50 (NLT)
Then Peter said to him, “We’ve given up everything to follow you. What will we get?” …
[And Jesus said,] “And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.” Matthew 19:27, 29 (NLT)
These are hard passages to swallow and accept into our lives. Jesus is telling me that if my parents and siblings cannot get on board with His plan for my life, I must embrace the non-biological family that He will bring into my life and keep on the path with Him. And when I take that difficult step, His promise to me is an eternal reward. He will not take away my loved ones choice to freely choose Him just as I did.
In God’s eyes, family is more than biology. It is the joining of lives that reach across biology, race, age, and all the barriers that we as a society may develop. God does not acknowledge these lines. He joins fishermen, tax collectors, old and young, men and women into His colorful family that have one thing in common – their love for God and desire to obediently follow His Way.
Better Than A Hallelujah written by Sarah Hart & Chapin Hartford & sung by Amy Grant