Summary: Although not socially acceptable, Jesus prioritized God’s family over his physical family. Disciples of Jesus do the same.
In the last post, we learned how a Christian’s spiritual brothers and sisters are supposed to be the most important relationships in their life. This means that they’re the most intimate, nurturing and ultimately satisfying relationships. For many, this concept is quite the challenge, especially in cultures and with people taught that their blood families come first.
For Christians with physical family members that ARE Christians, the challenge is not to show favoritism to these spiritual brothers or sisters over others just because DNA is closely shared. It’s also to see them according to your spiritual relationship and not your physical one.
For Christians with physical family members who ARE NOT Christians, the challenge is prioritizing their spiritual family over their physical family, bucking the trend against what’s typically socially acceptable behavior.
Prioritizing God’s family isn’t socially acceptable
Prioritizing the family of God over one’s physical family definitely wasn’t socially acceptable in Jesus’ strong-group Mediterranean culture when He said this…
Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household. Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. (Matthew 10:34-38)
He’s basically saying that commitment to Him and His family is going to create conflict between His family and physical families. At this point, there’s a choice to be made. Those who put Him and His family first are worthy of being part of it. Those who put their physical families first are not worthy of being part of it. He put it even more plainly here…
Then Jesus’ mother and brothers arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:31-55)
Your primary loyalty can only go to one family
Although Jesus in no way severed ties to His entire family, He clearly showed that His primary loyalty lie with the family of God. When it comes down to it, your primary loyalty can only go to one family at a time. As When the Church Was a Family says…
Family loyalty was an exclusive commitment. A person simply could not maintain descent-group type loyalty to more than one family. The decision to join God’s family invariably meant compromising to some degree the ties of loyalty that connected Jesus’ followers to their natural families…exchanging one family for another is at the very heart of what it means to be a disciple of Jesus.
This is what a church is
Practically, this meant that when there was conflict between the spiritual family and the physical family, the Christian would remain loyal to the spiritual family. We tend to agree with this thinking positionally, meaning we have a permanent position in the family of God because of being born again. But, this is also meant to be practiced relationally as well. Really, this is what a church is. It’s a group of Christians that lives everyday life for the good of the new spiritual family to express Christ and expand the family across the Earth.
Now it’s your turn. Do you find it challenging to give your primary loyalty to God’s family over your physical family? Why or why not? Do you have any interesting stories about having to choose between the two?
The rest of the posts in the Collectivist Community series are here.