“In the Christian family, belonging is forever linked to obedience.”
Thoughts from daily Bible reading for today – September 24, 2022
Then his mother and his brothers came to him, but they could not reach him because of the crowd. And he was told, “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you.” But he answered them, “My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it.” Luke 8:19-21, ESV
For several weeks now, the global community has had the British royal family on their hearts and minds, grieving the death of Queen Elizabeth II, a remarkable woman in every sense of the word. Yet one of the many things that stood out to me in her final hours was the limited access to the queen. Though beloved by many, only a select few were welcomed to say their goodbyes at Balmoral, with hereditary links serving as the key which granted entrance to the castle.
Of course, this is the natural ordering of our world. Bloodlines link people and create immediate associations of intimacy and belonging. This was as true in Jesus’ day as it is in ours, and in Luke 8 we encounter a scene in which the biological family of Jesus expected to be granted a private audience with him, simply by nature of their relationship. “Your mother and your brothers are standing outside, desiring to see you” (Luke 8:20). Especially in a culture which gave great honor to one’s elders, the expectation would have been for Christ to happily and immediately welcome his family, which should help us see the shocking nature of his response to their request. “But he answered them, ‘My mother and my brothers are those who hear the word of God and do it’” (Luke 8:21).
It should be noted that here Christ is neither dismissing nor disrespecting his biological family. His love for his mother is especially profound, and she is honored in the church throughout all generations. The point here is not to disrespect or dismiss his family but to identify for all the true nature of family. As St. John Chrysostom said, these words reveal to us that the family of God “is not by nature but by virtue.”
In the Christian family, belonging is forever linked to obedience. We are welcomed as sons and daughters, not based on family connections or “rights” but on our ability to hear God’s word and faithfully obey and embody the truths of his Kingdom. In this way, the invitation is sent out far and wide. Everyone is welcome at the royal castle, as it were. What remains to be seen is whether or not we will become the kinds of people who Christ recognizes as his own family, those who daily hear his word to us, receive it joyfully, and follow as he leads.
Father, teach us to live as faithful members of your family, living virtuous and holy lives, through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Reflect today on the true nature of Christian family, and how it differs from other familial relationships in your life.
Jonathan David and Melissa Helser: No Longer Slaves
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