“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life.” Mark 10:29-20
Family is great. Most of us don’t have to leave our homes and families to follow Jesus. In fact, following Jesus can make us better wives, sisters and daughters. We serve our loved ones and intentionally make time for them.
But there are times when family can be an obstacle. In our ministry right now we have more than one campus student who went home for the summer and faced family members who told them they couldn’t go to the church of their choice. We have someone who regularly attends church except when her family is in town.
How do have wisdom about all this?
Here’s what I think the bottom line is. Christ’s body is interdependent. If each person doesn’t make it a priority, it can’t function effectively.
As each and every part does its job, (Christ) makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. Eph 4:16
It reminds me of rowing.
What if some didn’t show up to row? What if someone slacked off? It’s hard if everyone isn’t pulling their weight.
In the same way, it’s hard when everyone doesn’t pull their weight in the ministry. It’s hard when someone doesn’t show up to church. It’s hard when they don’t take the commitment seriously. Because those who are working and coming to everything, who are rowing as hard as they can, start feeling tired and discouraged.
Plus the ministry isn’t as effective. To work, a body needs all its parts, not just some of them.
There has to be a commitment to put Jesus before family, and that also means putting church before family.
But as Jesus points out here, it isn’t a negative thing. It turns out to be the best thing ever. Again, I’m not telling people to dis mom, dad or hubby. I’m saying when you put things in the right order there are many blessings.
I have been reading this awesome article by Fred Faller on what it means to be righteous. He talks about how God wants us to be in a state, “where all the people will be faithful to the care and protection to one another,” where, “Each one will be like a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm.” Isa 32:2
God has a plan to surround us with an army of nurturers and encouragers who will love us as He loves us.
I like what Joyce Landorf Heatherly writes in her book, Balcony People, referring to our memories of affirmations, “All around the sphere of clear air in our conscious mind runs a balcony filled with people who are not merely sitting there, but practically hanging over the rail, cheering us on.”
This is what the body of Christ is to be. We cheer one another on, build each other up.
But if we don’t treat our sisters and brothers like they are important, the plan fails.
A single grain of wheat doesn’t produce anything unless it is planted in the ground and dies. If it dies, it will produce a lot of grain. John 12:24
We have to “die” for one another, sacrifice for one another, commit to one another, for the plan to work.
And then God will give us one hundred fold. A harvest of relationships that reflect His goodness. Relational blessings that will last into the life to come.
(Note: This blog is about a principle, but it takes wisdom. Get advice in sticky family situations. I am not condemning anyone, just giving food for thought.)