Monday, June 11, 2012

Sermon from 6/10/12--Family of God


Mark 3:20-35

Common English Bible (CEB)
20 Jesus entered a house. A crowd gathered again so that it was impossible for him and his followers even to eat. 21 When his family heard what was happening, they came to take control of him. They were saying, “He’s out of his mind!”
22 The legal experts came down from Jerusalem. Over and over they charged, “He’s possessed by Beelzebul. He throws out demons with the authority of the ruler of demons.”
23 When Jesus called them together he spoke to them in a parable: “How can Satan throw Satan out? 24  A kingdom involved in civil war will collapse. 25  And a house torn apart by divisions will collapse. 26  If Satan rebels against himself and is divided, then he can’t endure. He’s done for. 27  No one gets into the house of a strong person and steals anything without first tying up the strong person. Only then can the house be burglarized. 28  I assure you that human beings will be forgiven for everything, for all sins and insults of every kind. 29  But whoever insults the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven. That person is guilty of a sin with consequences that last forever.” 30 He said this because the legal experts were saying, “He’s possessed by an evil spirit.”
31 His mother and brothers arrived. They stood outside and sent word to him, calling for him. 32 A crowd was seated around him, and those sent to him said, “Look, your mother, brothers, and sisters are outside looking for you.”
33 He replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 34 Looking around at those seated around him in a circle, he said, “Look, here are my mother and my brothers. 35  Whoever does God’s will is my brother, sister, and mother.”

There were going to be problems. Of this there can be no doubt.
Jesus had went away into the mountains for a while, training his inner circle of disciples. When he returned to town, he dropped by a friends’ house to get something to eat.  Crowds surrounded them before dinner finished, and it wasn’t just because they smelled a wonderful Kosher barbeque and wanted to taste some of the meal. It was because they heard Jesus was there. Some people wanted to learn. Some people wanted to be healed. But the whole town was filled with this commotion.

Before we go any further, let me take a step back. Since we took a break in our study back in Mark 2 a few months ago, a few things have happened. One thing that has happened is that Jesus has begun to upset some people, especially those that were religious leaders. He has done this particularly by not following teaching on how to keep the Sabbath. Furthermore, when confronted by the religious leaders about his and his disciples’ lack of decorum, he made them look silly and foolish and gained popularity with the people.

After doing this, Jesus had formed an inner circle of followers, and began to train them as his students and disciples. When he got back into town, and the crowds began to gather, it becomes apparent that his retreat has only increased his popularity and a leader, teacher, healer and holy man.
Like I said, this popularity caused Jesus problems.

The religious leaders, hearing Jesus was back from his mountain retreat with his disciples, decide that they must come up from Jerusalem and confront Jesus head on. Troublemakers like Jesus, after all, must be dealt with by people in power. If they don’t deal with this problem soon, they are going to have a full on rejection of their power and control of the people.

About that same time, Jesus’ family got wind of what was going on. They began to wonder, “What in the heck in Jesus doing?” He challenging the authority and biblical interpretation of the nation’s leading preachers and bible scholars? He is running around with tax collectors and fisherman, and calling them his disciples? Furthermore, he is running around without a home, depending on the generosity of others? Crowds of scurrilous people are following him everywhere? Hanging on his every word? Thinking he might be the Messiah?

Oh, man, they must have thought, we have to do something with Jesus before he gets out of control. Let’s get him to come home with us, and get him away from the people and crowds, and help him get his head on straight. He seems to have gone a little crazy! He has lost all his marbles!

You can relate to Jesus’ family can’t you? A little religion is ok, they thought, but this kind of faith he living, it is getting a little suspicious, and a little radical.
So here Jesus is. He is at a crossroads. The people who one might expect should be most supportive of him were in fact against him. The religious leaders, instead of supporting this revival that Jesus was creating, they wanted to shame him and humiliate him, and convince people that he was doing the work of the devil.
Jesus’ family did not want to shame and humiliate him. Instead they wanted to put Jesus in a mental health facility for a 72 hour psychological evaluation. Which might be a little bit better option than shame and humiliation, but it was not that much better of an option.

Specifically, the Bible says that the family wanted to “take charge” of him or to “take control” of him, depending on the version that you might have in front of you.
And these few words about the family’s intent give us a clear picture about what is going on. Because you see, this passage is about family. And it is about authority and control. And it is about how family, authority, and loyalty works in the kingdom of God, and in the family of God.

The Bible says that before the family could get Jesus’ attention, the religious leaders started attacking Jesus. Specifically, these guys started saying that when Jesus was healing people (and he was healing a lot of people), and when Jesus was casing out demons (and he was casting out a lot of demons), that Jesus was doing this under the power of Satan.

In other words, they are saying that Jesus’ loyalty is not with his people or his God, Jesus’ loyalty was with the devil. This is what they said to him. This is what they told the people.

Jesus very clearly teaches how his loyalty does not lie with the evil one. He reasons well. He demonstrates how in fact, his works of healing and exorcism demonstrate that he is at work defeating the evil one instead of being in league with Satan.
They eventually lose their argument and head home. Jesus continues to teach the people. As he does so, people keep whispering. Eventually someone passes Jesus a note in the middle of his message. He does not pay attention to it. Finally, someone close to where Jesus was at tells Jesus that his family is present. The family wants Jesus to leave the crowds and come with them. Jesus refuses to leave his teaching with the people.

He uses his family’s request, actually, as a teaching moment. He says, “Who are my mothers, brothers, sisters and family. Those who do the will of my father, those are the ones that are my real family.

There can be no mistake about it. This is a hard word from Jesus. He is saying that the waters of baptism should create a greater loyalty among believers than the waters of birth. He is saying that although our blood relations are important, but not as important as the relationships with those that share our faith in the blood of Jesus cleansing us from our sin.

Now at first this can sound kind of creepy to us. If we hear this wrong we can get all sorts of strange ideas. After all, we have all heard of some guy who says that he is speaking for God, and that God is telling him to start a new colony in Guyana, and he wants these folks to go there, and listen to him tell them what God’s will is, and then eventually he tells the people that it is God’s will that they all drink Kool-Aid and die.

But Jesus is not saying to blindly follow some charismatic leader. He is not calling us to reject our family. Jesus still remains in relationship with his family after this incident.
What he is saying is that the authority of God is more important that fidelity to our traditions (both religious and secular), it is more important than pleasing our families and having their approval, it is more important than what political or religious authorities tell us. And that we need a community to keep this commitment to the authority of God. And that the bond of this Christian community, as we struggle and stand together, is deeper and more important than we might ever imagine or think.

What Jesus is saying is that when believers surrender their lives to Christ, the mutual commitment of believers to doing the will of God creates a stronger bond and demands a more committed loyalty to the family of God and its mission and truth than one has to nation, to denomination or tradition, to birth family.

The glue of that commitment, to surrender our lives to Christ in order to do the will of God, should also create a bond among us that challenges us to be as tight as healthy families are, to care for one another the way families do, to support one another the way families should and often do. To give of our time, our lives, our hopes, and our fears to one another. Because we stand together. And we need each other to live our faith and our lives the way God called us to.

When we come to church, we should not just see fellow citizens. We should look around and see family. Not blood family. But faith family. We should see that we have a wealth of grandparents to help support us raise our children. We should see that we have a wealth of children, nieces, and nephews that are committed to visit us, care for us, and listen to us as we get older.

When we come to church we should look around and see folks that are going to grab our hand and pray for us when our child is sick and we cannot find words to pray on our own. We should see people who are going to help us discern what God’s will is for our lives when don’t know what our next step is going to be.
When we are a part of a church family, we have partners in the journey of faith. People who are going to confront us when we are going astray. People who are going to encourage us when we are doing the right thing. People who are going to show the way when we seem lost.

When we are a part of a church family, we are going to stand with people who share our convictions about what is true and false, and who know that whose we are defines who we are.

An old Disciples of Christ pastor tells a story about a baptism in the old country church he served. A young man was baptized. In his 20s. A new father I think. And they had a baptism down at the river. And a barbeque. And the young man was asked to help the rest of the guys load up everything into the pick up trucks and begin the process of heading home. They got the work done. And they stood in kind of a circle. And one spoke up. If you ever need some work done on your car, give me a call, day or night, and I will be there for you. Another said, if you are ever down on your luck and you and your family need a place to stay for a week or two, give me a call. Don’t even think twice about it. That is what I am here for. This went on until all 20 some guys had said something like this. And then there was an awkward silence. Somebody kicked some dirt around. And everyone started to head out.
I don’t know what you call that kind of thing when it happens. You might call it church. You might call it family. It is all the same to me.

1 comment:

ElderChild said...

The Family of "Our Father and GOD" -OR- a system of religion?

Choose you this day!

And what of the numerous and varied systems of religion?

History has proven, and yet proves, that multiplied millions have been killed and enslaved in the name of the god[s] of this, or that, religion!

So it is that the fruit of death is bore of religion's way,
Because life is but a pawn in the wicked game they play!

And that is but one of a multitude of reasons why "The Way of Truth is evil spoken of", and especially so because of those systems of religion that declare that they are biblically based!

Pagan catholicism, her multitude of harlot christian('jesus') daughters, all muslim sects, and the many judaic systems of this day, all propagate lies, delusion, deception, confusion and every evil work!

Was not biblical religion established for a "disobedient and gainsaying(greedy, covetous) people" who were "stiff-necked and uncircumcised of heart and ears"? Those who would rather "a man speak to them than YHVH", and who wanted "a man to rule over them rather than The One and Only True GOD, Father(Creator) of ALL"?

i believe the first step in realizing what 'religion' is, comes when one truly understands the testimony in James 1:27: "Pure religion and undefiled before GOD and Our Father is this, to visit the fatherless(have no relationship with Our Father) and widows(their bridegroom has not risen from among the dead) in their affliction, and to keep oneself uncontaminated by the world."

For understanding reveals that all other 'religion' is IMPURE AND DEFILED!

"Our Father and GOD", thankfully HE is Merciful!

So repentance and regeneration can be experienced by those who receive "a love of The Truth" for they will desire naught but to hear HIS Voice!

And they realize evermore that "Our Father", HE knows what is best for HIS children!

Father Help! and HE does.......

What of The Faithful?

Do not The Faithful seek "Our Father's" Help and desire to do HIS Will?

And does not "Our Father" yet commune with The Faithful?

And it is well to remember that NEW "Jerusalem which is above, is free, and IS !NOW! the mother of us all"! (Gal 4:26)

So why would The Faithful create a system of religion?

Are not brothers and sisters family?

And do not The Faithful brothers and sisters have their portion in The Family of "Our Father and GOD"?

Most certainly!

For The Faithful are the children of "Our Father and GOD", "of WHOM the whole Family in Heaven and ON EARTH is named"! (Eph 3:15)

The brethren of The Messiah, who are "sons of GOD", are in and of The Family of "Our Father and GOD", and so it is that we are but "aliens and pilgrims while on the earth", for we have realized that our "citizenship(Life) is in Heaven"?

Why would "aliens and pilgrims" create a system of religion, or love this world and it's things?

Why would we love our own(self,ego,id,"I") life in and of this wicked, evil world, especially when it is promised that "whoever loves his life in this world will lose it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it unto Life Eternal"? (John12:25)

And so it is that we continue to sound The Call of "Our Father and GOD" as we exhort others to;

"Come Out of her(babel/confusion/babylon\world\religion), MY people!"

"Come Out" of that which is of this wicked, evil world and especially it's systems of religion!

continued @