We Are Family

Matthew 12:46-50

While [Jesus] was still speaking to the crowds, his mother and his brothers were standing outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Look, your mother and your brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” But to the one who had told him this, Jesus replied, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

The fifth of the Ten Commandments is, “Honor your father and mother.” When we remember how important family is in Jewish culture, Jesus’ above statement becomes more startling.

Family was important to Jesus, of course. He was an obedient child; likewise, as he was dying on the cross, bearing the burden of the sins of the world, one of his concerns was who would care for his mother.

As important as family is, however, there is a greater concern. Even family cannot interfere in our relationship with God. Walking with God, understanding God and following God’s will are the most challenging and critical activities in our lives.

It can be tough when God’s will for us is out of alignment with what the family wants. I will always remember a little girl in the Czech Republic who learned in Vacation Bible School the story of Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection. She lived in a nation with a shockingly high percentage of committed atheists, a vestige of communist rule.

Having learned how to tell the story on her own, she said, “I will tell my family. But it will make my grandmother very angry.” The interpreter and I teared up simultaneously.

Jesus knew such conflict would arise when he said, “Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but rather division! From now on five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three.” (Luke 12:51-52.)

If you and your family are aligned in the pursuit of God’s will through Jesus Christ, know what a tremendous blessing you have. And if you are not so blessed, know that your global family prays for you, and that through your witness, your biological family has hope.

Lord, give special strength and new gifts of the Spirit to those who go about the particularly difficult task of telling non-believing family members the Good News. Amen.

Shout to the Lord

By Chuck Griffin
LifeTalk Editor

Psalm 98:4-9

Shout to the Lord, all the earth;
    break out in praise and sing for joy!
Sing your praise to the Lord with the harp,
    with the harp and melodious song,
with trumpets and the sound of the ram’s horn.
    Make a joyful symphony before the Lord, the King!

Let the sea and everything in it shout his praise!
    Let the earth and all living things join in.
Let the rivers clap their hands in glee!
    Let the hills sing out their songs of joy
before the Lord,
    for he is coming to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with justice,
    and the nations with fairness.

I am not a musical person. You don’t want me to lead the singing; my year of piano lessons was at best inauspicious. Whenever I was supposed to be practicing, the weather outside always seemed so nice.

But dear Lord, how I do love the music during worship. I particularly love the singing, as it is the one place I can comfortably join in, hiding my off-key efforts among the better voices near me. (It helps to be standing near the choir.)

And dear Lord, how I miss the singing in unison right now. I understand the science behind how Covid-19 spreads, and I know why we should not be projecting our voices on those Sundays we are able to gather. We so want to shout to you, though!

I’m reminded of a story a friend of mine in the Czech Republic told me. She was brought up secretly in a church considered illegal under Soviet rule. Throughout her childhood and into her early adult years, she and her fellow church members gathered in a room, shutters closed, and whispered their hymns.

What a glorious day it was when the Iron Curtain fell, and they were able to throw open the shutters and sing out loud!

We aren’t nearly as oppressed, but I expect we will experience a similar joy and sense of renewal when we can burst forth in the hymns, the Gloria Patri, and the Doxology.

We will shout to the Lord, and I promise, I’ll try not to throw those around me off key.

Lord, in this odd time when we have to choose our love for one another over shouting to you, may we continue to worship you well in our hearts. May our love for you be evident. May our quiet praise be enhanced by your Holy Spirit. Amen.