Obedience as a Family Trait
Read Mt. 12:46-50
“Whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is my brother and sister and mother.”
Throughout the Ancient Near East, religious worship was defined by rituals. However, when we examine scripture, we discover a different focus in worship. Worship throughout the Bible encompassed how we lived. Worship involved a consecrated lifestyle lived in response to God. This distinguished the church from the pagan worship surrounding it. The natural tendency of humanity is to move our relationship to God from internal transformation to the external forms.
At first glance, it would appear that Christ’s response to the arrival of his family is uncharacteristic of one who is the loving God of the universe. When his family arrived to speak with Jesus, instead of welcoming them with open arms, Jesus seems to brush them aside. However, at this point, there is no evidence that his family were disciples of Jesus. In fact, the evidence suggests that they did not believe he was the son of God and even regarding him as a mad man for the claims he made. In Mark 3:20-21, we find his family coming to take custody of Jesus for they felt he had “lost his senses” (see also John 7:5). Their arrival and their request to talk to him even as Jesus was still speaking to the crowds raised a critical question of priority. Which takes precedence, his physical family or his ministry? This also gave Christ an opportunity to address an even deeper issue, is our relationship with God built upon physical heritage for spiritual identity. This was a critical issue for the Jews, for their whole religious perspective was grounded in their physical heritage. For the Jews, they were God’s people simply because of their physical heritage. Any spiritual requirements were satisfied in the ritual practices of the temple. In other words, as long as they were Jews and they performed the necessary requirements of the external rituals, they were in good standing with God.
But Christ moves them from the external to the internal. Any physical (or religious) connection with Christ was meaningless if there was not the inward transformation revealed in a heart of obedience. The true family of God are not those who give external and verbal allegiance, rather they are those who conform to God’s way and submit to God’s requirements for salvation rather than our own.
This again brings us back to our family identity. To be a part of God’s family requires a personal relationship that goes beyond externals. It moves us into the very core of our identity. As a parent, my greatest joy is when my children manifest in their lives the values, I sought to imprint upon them, values that are intrinsic to my identity and ones I sought to engrain in our family. The same is true for God. His desire is not just to embrace us into his family, but to transform us and shape us to conform to his character and image. Just as my children bring me honor when they embrace and manifest family values. Through their mannerism and decisions, they reveal that they are my sons. So, we bring honor to Christ, when we reveal him to the world. This is the purpose of our salvation. We are not just saved from sin and its punishment; we are saved to be in a relationship with Christ where his character is increasingly manifested in us (2 Corinthians 3:18). As followers of Christ, the genuineness of our faith is revealed by our life of obedience. When people look at a son, they comment that they see a family resemblance with their physical father. When people look at our life, to they see our family resemblance with our spiritual Father?