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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.


I want to know Christ—yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, Philippians 3:10

Be careful what you ask for. To know the power of Christ, to be able to heal, to endure hardship, to sleep in the bow of the boat during a violent storm are all noble aspirations. Every one of them is something each of us would love to attain.

One can not bask in the glory of Christ unless one endures the suffering of Christ. Lest we romanticize the ministry of Jesus on earth let us not forget that many times the only place to rest his head was on the hard ground. He had no place to call home except for the homes of generous friends. Even his grave was donated to him by someone who he may have never met.

Other than a devoted few, his list of friends and followers was a revolving door of people who were looking for an earthly kingdom, who became critical of his alleged rejection of religious Sabbath laws, and the ungrateful that came for healing and, once made pure, were never heard from again. Oh, and the devoted few? They all abandoned him at the cross. Every last one of them.

And his family? On a couple of occasions they came looking for him. Not to follow him mind you, but to quarantine him in the safe confines of the carpenter shop. When his brothers talked about Jesus during his ministry the word ‘lunatic’ was frequently heard. Only his mother seemed to stand quietly in the shadows watching her son grow, minister and eventually die.

The church was no safe haven for Jesus either. He was scrutinized on every front. His motives were misread and misunderstood. He was accused of being possessed by the devil and an affront to everything the Jewish religion stood for.

What made Jesus different? There are perhaps many answers to that question, but one that comes to my mind is that Jesus always held before him the purpose for which he was called. He wasn’t called to be blessed. He wasn’t called to be powerful and respected. He wasn’t called to be a mighty leader. He was called to be a servant and die in the process. But along the way, he changed the world!

Although I shudder at what it might mean, I echo the prayer of the Apostle Paul. Regardless of what it may mean to me physically, emotionally, or socially, I want to know Christ. I want to know him in such a way that his power shows through me to others.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, You showed us in your life that we will be faced with all sorts of trials and tribulations. I want to know you. I want to know your power in my life. I confess to you that even as I pray this prayer I’m nervous about what may lie ahead. Empower me by your Spirit to trust you as I forge ahead on this journey of life. In your name I pray, Amen.

 

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