As always, you can find all our previous posts in this series, going through the Gospels chronologically to find the real Jesus, here.
And as always you'll find the scriptures for today are here. (Note that you can change the human-translation version on this scripture page as suits you. I default to the NASB to get the more literal translation, but do use the one that works for you. Note also that I have no theological or other tie to the bible site I list above – it's just one that lists the NASB, KJV, and The Message, and most folks I've corresponded with seem to use one of those. However, another brother likes the NRSV human translation, and says you can find that at bible.oremus.org. Send me yours, if it isn't already listed!)
Today we're looking at: Who does God (not "church", not "denomination", not "minister") define as His family, and what are the requirements for being part of it?
In the very short scripture for today, we see Jesus is once again surrounded by a big, pressing crowd of people. So big, so pressing, in fact, that when His biological mother and brothers (and possibly His sisters, as well) show up, they can't push through to get to Him.
In that culture 2,000 years ago, so fiercely obsessed with biological ties and the unending power of the biological family over the lives of those in it, of course people in the crowd passed on the message to Jesus that His mother and brothers were here and trying to get through to Him. And of course the people in this crowd (and His biological family) would have had no doubt whatsoever that Jesus would have immediately dropped everything else to tend to His biological family. In Israel 2,000 years ago, to not obey and fail to put one's family before everything else meant risking one's place in the family – and that could cost someone a huge economic and social downfall (that's why women who were divorced by their husbands were at such risk, and why Jesus spoke against such divorce).
Yet, once again we see Jesus stunning the crowd with His very different response. Jesus, we see, redefined who He belonged to, and who belonged to Him. He changed that relationship from something defined by people, to something defined by God. "MY family," He said, "is made up of those who do what God wants."
In our culture, we can't even imagine how that would have shocked the people who heard it. Their mouths would have dropped open, their faces curled up in offense, their tongues wagged in agitation. Obviously (to them), once again He was being a "bad" guy!
But first of all,was Jesus poo-pooing His biological family? In some way, yes, He was. He stayed connected with the crowd of seekers, and didn't do anything that made those who felt they had the biggest ties to and hold on Him any special treatment whatsoever. Does that mean His biological family had no place with Him whatsoever? Oh, no – they had the same place in God's family everyone else does. His biological family was just also invited to be part of the seeker-crowd, no better, no worse, no more or less special than everyone else who was seeking after Jesus and doing what God says to do.
This shines a big God-spotlight on those "Christian" practices that hold some "Christians" as "higher", "more special", "more holy", "more worthy", etc than others. The Roman "church" and its centuries of elevating human beings in "saint" worship – especially of Jesus' biological mother – is an absolute rejection of how God's defined our relationship with our fellow believers (both present and past). But just as big a God-rejection is the Protestant and Roman "church" elevation of some human beings as "clergy" (the pastor/priest/pope syndrome). Jesus didn't give even the tiniest hint of special treatment even to the woman who gave birth to Him. Yet Good Religious People just LOVE LOVE LOVE to give special education, special seating, special housing, special deference, special attention, special titles, special clothing, and innumerable other special honors to those who are truly no more than anyone else (and who, in fact, make themselves Jesus-rejecters and LESS than any in God's true family, because of their acceptance and love of being "special").
Once again, Good Religious People – for all their centuries of self-congratulation regarding their "special" place with God, and with all their centuries of "Christian" scholarship, and with all the years and years each of their "clergy" people spend memorizing and regurgitating all that "scholarship" – prove by their lives that they have once again completely missed Jesus' point. Once again, they have absolutely nothing of real-God value to share with anyone!
Of course, there's nothing wrong with looking up to someone who's a (real) elder in the faith, or gaining wisdom and strength from someone who's going through trials we relate to or are spiritually impressed or humbled by. But there is a problem with thinking we find those things within Good Religious Churches or Good Religious Denominations and their centuries of saint and clergy worship, so that they become somehow "more holy" or "closer to God" or someone we should follow with little/no question. Then we're putting human beings in the place only Jesus is supposed to occupy.
Does your heart crave looking up to and venerating a human being? Then look up to and venerate the Only One worthy of your praise and respect: Jesus!
- Many Good Religious Christians today are almost as obsessed with their biological families today as were Good Religious Jews of 2,000 years ago. They spout off all the time about being "Family" oriented, don't they? They make it seem as if the biological family is THE most important thing about being a "Good Christian". Does that even make sense, when we look over Jesus' life and His relationships?
- While Jesus never put human family above God's (real) family, He also never told us to reject or not take care of those of our biological families, either. What does this say to you about the various priorities you have in your day-to-day life? How can you satisfy the requirements of being a real part of God's family, and also taking care of those who depend on you, as well?
- What human beings have you elevated above yourself or others in your life? Did you learn to do so from "church" or other Good Religious Sources? What prevents you from putting only Jesus in that high place?
- When we try to be part of God's Family by belonging to some church, we misunderstand Jesus' whole point just as badly as the Good Religious People do – and that's the most spiritually dangerous position we can be in! Have there been times in your life (perhaps now?) when you've missed Jesus' point, as well? Who taught you the wrong way? Are you letting Jesus teach you His right way?
- We've already seen that Jesus says no one can accomplish good through evil – and putting oneself or someone else in Jesus' place IS evil. Yet Good Religious People continue to believe fiercely that elevating some of their people above others (making them "clergy") is a good, Godly thing – even though it puts them on the level only Jesus is supposed to be at, among His (real) people. Were you infected with "clergy"-worship at some time in your life? Did you at some point decide to step up into being "clergy" yourself? Are you ready to repent of those blasphemies?
- It's not surprising that it only took three years for Good Religious People to murder Jesus (it's probably more surprising it took them that long!). Every way He lived, and everything He said, was a constant irritation and rebuttal to the true-God rejecting way Good Religious People lived. He refused to elevate them to the spiritual heights they imagined they inhabited. He never stop illuminating just how empty of God and how full of themselves and demons they actually were. And so they tortured and killed Him. After Jesus went back up into heaven, though, His rejection of them remained – but He was no longer around to murder. Is it hard to figure out why Jesus' TRUE message, then, would be "murdered" by the Good Religious People over the next twenty centuries? Is it hard to imagine why Good Religious People work so hard to re-write (through "translation" and interpretation) the parts of the Bible they want to say something different than what God intended? Is it even surprising that they would ignore, fight against, and bury the hugely simple and Good-Religious-People-Condemning message of Jesus Christ under their centuries of "theology", "scholarship", "tradition", "hierarchy", and "clergyhood", and then train people through their "seminaries" and "Bible studies" to memorize and push forward the complex mass of sewage they call "Christianity"?
A final thought for today.
If you've been following along with our Gospel study, have you noticed how often the message is that human ways of being religious are not only completely opposite how God wants us to be, but are actually dangerous, because they entice us to believe we've got the right answer (after all, it's the same answer the "educated" people believe, and it's the same answer Good Religious People have believed for centuries!), when actually we couldn't be more wrong?
There's a reason we're given the Bible – but just reading it, just absorbing the "official" Good Religious People message of what it means, and just accepting the translations and interpretations "The Church" gives us, means we're following sinful God-rejecters, and conforming our lives to what pleases the sinful nature of human beings, and not what pleases God.
- Today, come up with three ways you can squeeze the Good Religious Slime from your and others' eyes, so that the real Jesus and His real saving message becomes visible.
- Repent of your desires for those pretty Good Religious ways of being "Christian" or part of the "Christian Church", and ask Jesus to help you and your heart to find and live in the true beauty of a life in Jesus Christ.
- Look around and see what you can do to join or create fellowship that doesn't settle for "church" buildings and "clergy" and "tithes", but instead reaches out for the true treasure Jesus came to make sure we can have – if we'll only choose it.
Take care until next week! :-)
This article written by Lynne at http://NoJunkJustJesus.blogspot.com/. You can contact Lynne at NoJunkJustJesus@gmail.com.