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They all continued praying together with some women, including Mary the mother of Jesus, and Jesus’ brothers. Acts 1:14 (NCV)

Deep down inside we’ve all wanted to be accepted by our families. Our play often revolved around doing things ‘like mommy did’ or ‘like daddy did’. There are things we’d pick up on and emulate that now, looking back, probably weren’t the things our parents would have wanted us to notice, much less practice.

There are times when our desire to seek family acceptance can be a positive thing, but other times when that desire can impede our own success and keep us from using our gifts the way God wants us to. Following the footsteps of parents or siblings may or may not be the best practice.

It would have been interesting to see the dynamics of Jesus’ family as he was growing up. History tells us that he was about 30 when he entered the ministry and only ministered for about three years before being brutally murdered. That means that most of his life was lived in the ‘family setting’.

While each of us wants the approval of our family, the reality is that sometimes we have to set aside ‘what the family wants’ for what God wants. Those are hard words as it’s sometimes a fine line between following God and rejecting family. Jesus knew the importance of setting aside the desires of his earthly father for the desires of his Heavenly Father.

In the same way, the ultimate goal for each of us is to do the will of our Heavenly Father. We are called to use our gifts, our finances and our time for his glory. Hopefully that means our decision to follow God will meet with the favor of our family, but there are no guarantees.

At one point in his ministry Jesus’ family comes to speak to him. It was a pivotal time of his ministry and he wasn’t about to be distracted by earthly things. He looked around him and said (my paraphrase) ‘Look around you. Do these people. These are my family. Those who do the will of my Heavenly Father are my family!’

Was Jesus advocating rejection of family? No, he was teaching a principle to follow. If doing the will of the Father contradicts the desires of my family, I must choose Christ. I must do it prayerfully. I must do it gently and with great patience, grace and love. I must do it without bitterness, anger or condemnation of my family. But I must follow Christ.

There is no indication that many, if any of Jesus’ family followed him in ministry. We catch glimpses of his mother Mary from time to time, but it wasn’t until after his death that we see his brothers mentioned in Scripture. One became a church leader inJerusalem. Others were missionaries. His patience with family eventually paid off.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, these are hard words for me. I’d never really given much thought to the family dynamics you were a part of. There are times when I want so much for my family to see my point of view in following you, yet they seem to turn a deaf ear to the truth. Help me to follow you and be graceful with my brothers and sisters who have yet to see the light of your love. Amen.

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