Believe and Obey

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A Hard Lesson

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Logical Jesus

The text this week is Mark 3:20-35.  This has several parts to it.  The first part sees the scribes claiming that Jesus has Beelzebul within Him. The scribes are claiming that Jesus is using the prince of demons to drive demons from those possessed.  Jesus uses simple, yet powerful logic to deflate this specious argument.  He asks, “How can Satan drive out Satan?” (Verse 23).  Jesus then goes on to explain that a house divided against itself cannot stand, nor can a being, even, perhaps especially, Satan.  Up goes this argument, and Satan in a puff of logic.

Did He Really Say That?

The next part is where the hard teaching come into play.  Jesus is told that His mother and brothers have arrived, and are looking for Him.  Jesus then looks at those circled around Him and asks. “Who are my mother and brothers?” (Verse 33).  Jesus then states that those seated around Him are His mother and brothers.  He is clear in Verse 35 that “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and mother”.

This comes off as very harsh.  I mean, it sounds as if Jesus is explicitly rejecting His own family.  In a sense He is, if they are not followers of God.  Now we know that Mary, the mother of our Lord, as well as James, the brother of Jesus indeed were followers and lived out the will of God.  But what is Jesus saying to the rest of us?

What Jesus is saying is indeed a hard teaching.  It is that we must put God first.  Always.  This may come at the expense of familial relationships.  We see this in Mark 1: 16-20, when Jesus calls James and John the sons of Zebedee to drop their nets and follow Him.  What of poor Zebedee who just lost his work force?  What of those called into ministry that leave behind a family business or subject their family to multiple moves to strange places and a life of relative penury?  As the economist Thomas Sowell observed, there are no solutions in life, just tradeoffs.  These tradeoffs present a real cost and sacrifice to those in our life, even our families.  Yet, we must choose for God.

Nowhere in scripture does it say that following God’s will is easy or without sacrifice.  Scripture says the exact opposite.  The passion and crucifixion of our Lord is alone proof of this.  One will always hope and pray that the call you answer will be accepted and affirmed by those in your immediate circle of family and close friends, but there is no guarantee.  I have seen family relationships strained because of the faith-based choices I have made in answering the call God has given me.  That saddens me but I can do no other than follow what my conscience informs me to do in His name.

The tradeoff is an eternal relationship with God the Father through His only begotten Son, Jesus the Christ.  What earthly relationship can be more important than that?  This does not mean we despise or mistreat those in our family that do not affirm our faith walk.  We must love them as God loves us the same as anyone.  We should seek to maintain those relationships as best we can.  But realize, in the end, that our true brothers and sisters are those in the circle of faith, gathered in the shadow of the cross.

A hard lesson to be sure.  Then again anyone telling you that all you need to do is “name it and claim it”- believe and all will be peaches and cream-is selling you a bill of goods.  The real cost of discipleship may include lost relationships.  We may rightly lament these lost relationships but in the end, ours is but to believe and obey.

Praise Be to God

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