Your Forever Family :: By Sean Gooding

Matthew chapter 12:46-50 (continued)

“While He was still talking to the crowds, it happened that His mother and brothers stood outside, asking to speak to Him. Someone said to Him, ‘Look! Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside asking to speak to You.’ But Jesus replied to the one who told Him, ‘Who is My mother and who are My brothers?’And stretching out His hand toward His disciples [and all His other followers], He said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven [by believing in Me, and following Me] is My brother and sister and mother.’”

We ended last time looking at how religion makes you more useful for the devil.  Religion has been used to perpetrate all manner of evil throughout the world.  One only needs to pick up the newspaper or log onto to the local news headlines to see how religion around the world has been and is being used to do evil.

From murder, to rape, to stealing and all manner of evil, religion has been used as the blank check to do it all.  As long as it is a part of my religion than I should be free to do it.  This should not be the case. If one is truly saved, redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ, then that person’s religion should reflect the person and character of Jesus. Jesus served  man; He loved them, He spoke the truth, He befriended the outcasts, He fed them, He healed them and He ultimately died for them. This is true religion.

Today we will look at family and see what God’s family is like. One of the hardest things for Christians to do is see their new heavenly family as their family. But Jesus set an example for us that need to be lived out in the modern New Testament church world.  What is family? Who is my family?

God calls us to be separated from the world system around us, and that often means that as we mature in Jesus we have to give up hanging around with a lot of the people that we used to call our friends. The apostle Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 15:33 that “bad company corrupts good character.” So if we plan to live with good character for and before the Lord we need to surround ourselves with people who also want to serve the Lord and honor Him.

Jesus actually tells us how to choose these friends and how to know if these are the kind of people that we want to hang out with:

“For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven [by believing in Me, and following Me] is My brother and sister and mother.”

We should attach ourselves to people or associate with people who want to serve and honor the Lord.  This is what the primary work of the New Testament church is about.  It is there to provide a safe and accepting family for the Lord’s people who have had to choose between Him and their earthly families. God knew from the beginning of creation that mankind did not do well on their own.

He made a helper for Adam. He had Moses take Aaron and even Jesus had a “best friend.” (John the “disciple whom Jesus loved.”) Jesus sent missionaries out in twos and yes, even the great Paul had a group of companions that helped him, served him and supported him so he could be the missionary he became in Jesus. I try to remind people that even the Lone Ranger had Tonto and Batman had Robin. So we need each other, we need family and God knows that; He has a solution for us.

Sometimes Family Is Not Always Family, Verses 46-47

Jesus was the first born of at least 7 children that Mary and Joseph had. In Matthew 13:55 we are introduced to Jesus four (4) brothers and his two (2) sisters. In the New Testament book of Jude, he introduces himself as the brother of James. In Matthew 13:55 we meet there one of the Lord’s brothers named Judas (not the one who betrayed him).

This brother, Judas shortened his name to Jude and it is he who is writing the short epistle where we are encouraged to “contend for the faith.”  But Jesus’ brothers did not always like him and they did not always believe that He was the Messiah. They actually hated him and wanted him dead, most of the time.

We find an interesting passage in John 7:1-5:

“After this, Jesus walked [from place to place] in Galilee, for He would not walk in Judea because the Jews were seeking to kill Him. Now the Jewish [a]Feast of Tabernacles (Booths) was approaching. So His [b]brothers said to Him, ‘Leave here and go to Judea, so that Your disciples [there] may also see the works that You do. No one does anything in secret when he wants to be known publicly. If You [must] do these things, show Yourself openly to the world and make Yourself known!’ For not even His brothers believed in Him.”

We find in verse 5 that his own brothers did not believe in Him.  But worse than that they knew that the Jewish leaders wanted to kill their brother and they encouraged Him to go and make himself publicly known. I have two brothers who are still living; if I knew that they were walking into a crowd of people that wanted them dead I would do all I could to discourage them, NOT encourage them.

So we can conclude from this that at this time his own brothers wanted him dead as well. At this time in His life Jesus’ own family were not his biggest fans and frankly they hated him. But this is the very situation that He warns us to be ready for when we choose to follow Him.

Matthew 10: 34-36 – “Do not think that I came to bring peace on the earth; I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I came to SET A MAN AGAINST HIS FATHER, AND A DAUGHTER AGAINST HER MOTHER, AND A DAUGHTER-IN-LAW AGAINST HER MOTHER-IN-LAW; and A MAN’S ENEMIES WILL BE THE MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD.”

Jesus experienced this first hand. In Hebrews 4:14-18 Jesus tells us that we can find help in the time of need because He has gone through all the situations in which you will find yourself. Jesus knows what it is like to be hated and misunderstood by your own family.

So God gave Jesus a new family, men and women, who would love Him, respect Him, serve Him and eventually died for Him. These outcasts and rejects became his circle of help. They went everywhere with Him, they fed Him, gave Him a place to sleep, protected Him and preserved His memory. When they failed Him they were able to go back and be forgiven and move on. Jesus never failed them and He never held that against them. In this family they had forgiveness, love, acceptance and companionship.

The Lord’s Churches Should Be This Kind of Family

We are told in Hebrews 10:25 that “assembling together” will become more important in the church age as we see the end approaching.  You and I need the local New Testament church more now that any generation of church goers since Christ. Sadly, church attendance continues to dwindle and I am not sure that we can right the ship at this point.  But for we who are still actively involved in one of the Lord’s churches we need to be vigilant about how we do church.

The church that you are a part of is your family. They will be your family forever. Let that sink in. Your earthly family that has rejected Jesus as Savior is your temporary family. As the end draws closer, these people will become more and more hostile to you and the teachings of Jesus. The Lord’s churches on the other hand should offer us a refuge from the emotional pain of our earthly families.

Our churches should be filled with forgiveness, love, kindness and acceptance. Not an acceptance of sin; a good family will tell you when you are wrong but they will love you anyway. Jesus told the apostles when they were wrong but He never stopped loving them, ever. The Lord’s churches should be filled with kindness, patience and gentleness.

They should be nurturing and provide a place for growth to happen. The Lord’s churches should rally around each other and protect the hurt and helpless, not expose them to more pain. In fact if we looked at the “fruit of the Spirit” we will find that this is how the Lord’s churches should be and in this environment we can find the family and companionship that we need. In Galatians 5:22-23 we find these challenging words:

“But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things there is no law.”

How are you and I contributing the Lord’s family? Do we bring any of these virtues to the table when we get together?  Do we offer these to our brothers and sisters in the Lord?  Sadly ,the answer for most of us is “no.”  Most often the Lord’s churches are filled with “takers” not “givers.” We come to see what the family can give us and not what we can contribute to the family.

For any family to be sustained, sooner or later the takers must become givers.  The children must grow up and contribute. Too many of the Lord’s people are still children seeing what is in it for them, rather than coming to serve their fellow Christian. We forget that these people will be our family forever.

More important, we forget that these people we fellowship with every Sunday are joint heirs of the riches of God in Jesus. We see this in Romans 8: 16-17:

“The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him.”

We should treat them like we would treat Jesus if He were here. Not in the idea of worshipping them but in the idea of treasuring them. These people are precious people for whom Jesus gave His life, for that He might redeem them from hell.  Jesus calls them His family. If Jesus thinks they are precious then so should we.

Now I know that we all have different personalities and so on, but we have something in common that is more important than our personalities, we have the Holy Spirit in us and that trumps everything else. Jesus was a sinless man but he hung out with sinners. Jesus even loved Judas, his betrayer.

Today more than ever the Lord’s people need to have loving friendships and family in the Lord’s churches. As the world becomes more and more hostile to the truths of Jesus Christ, the security that one should find in the Lord’s family will become more and more important. The end is near, let us love the family we will have for eternity and let us provide a safe place for the Lord to send new people so that we can nurture them to maturity in Jesus.

Hebrews 10:23-25 – “Let us seize and hold tightly the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is reliable and trustworthy and faithful [to His word]; and let us consider [thoughtfully] how we may encourage one another to love and to do good deeds, not forsaking our meeting together [as believers for worship and instruction], as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more [faithfully] as you see the day [of Christ’s return] approaching.”