And Again, Who Is Your FAMILY? Holidays, "Families," Morphine, LSD...
This first thought is devastatingly simple: What you find your life’s pleasure in, what you need and want in order to be truly happy, the place where you find your comfort and strength...this is the place where you must also find the salvation for your soul. It is either Jesus, or it is an idol.
Frankly, most people either find their comfort, identity and happiness in evil vices, their occupation, man-made religious activities, some sport or hobby, or in physical family ties. Some combination of these “drug addictions” allows the average unregenerate person to “be happy” and contentedly comatose in this fallen world. These are nothing but DRUGS, illegal substances that dull the senses to the REALITY that might be theirs in Jesus and His Kingdom. Yet most people, instead, harden themselves with the substitute “high” of these “drug addictions.” Sports (as an escape or vice, or affection and conversation consumer), or job or family...are for many no different than worshipping idols. Why? Because looking to these things for happiness, strength, peace, bonding, or identity...is to turn away from Jesus.
“No man can serve two masters.” One can either be self-seeking, or Jesus-seeking...but never both. Those that “love the world” (and the “things of the world”) are “enemies of God.” Those that “live for pleasure” are “dead even while they live.” What DO we find our comfort, identity, and happiness in? And what DO our physical family members (adult “brothers” and “sisters,” parents, cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, etc.) REALLY live for?
By way of definition, an “unregenerate” person is one not “born a second time”—not yet genetically altered in the Spiritual Realm. They have not abandoned their lives into the love of Jesus, and are therefore not Christians and not going to heaven. “Attending services” and “being a good person” and believing the “right things” cannot and won’t ever, in themselves, cut it with God. A person without a life given over to Jesus is “unsaved” and is called by the Bible a “child of the devil.” Wow! This may sound unkind, since they are all “wonderful people,” but it is reality, nonetheless. And it can change, if they will choose to live for Jesus, rather than for their own lusts, desires and securities.
Let’s focus on one particular area of this idolatry and “drug addiction” common to the species of the unsaved: “FAMILY”—as in “physical blood-line” bonding and affections. Let’s start in the obvious place. What does the Messiah have to say about it? What does GOD think about this area of “family” that is so emotionally powerful and intoxicating?
How Did Jesus Define Family?
Jesus CLEARLY re-defined “family” for those that have been re-born. Who is your REAL family, if you are truly a christian (birthed now in the Spirit of God)?
(Mark 10:29-30, KJV, YLT, NKJV, Darby, Peshitta Ancient Eastern Text, Tyndale, Moffatt, The Greek Literal New Testament) So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time; houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions; and in the age to come, eternal life.
(Mark 3:33-35) But He answered them, saying, “Who is My mother, or My brothers?” And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.”
(Luke 11:27-28) And it happened, as He spoke these things, that a certain woman from the crowd raised her voice and said to Him, “Blessed is the womb that bore You, and the breasts which nursed You!” But He said, “On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”
(Luke 9:59-62) He said to another person, “Come, be my disciple.” The man agreed, but he said, “Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.” Jesus replied, “Let those who are spiritually dead care for their own dead. Your duty is to go and preach the coming of the Kingdom of God.” Another said, “Yes, Lord, I will follow you, but first let me say good-bye to my family.” But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.”
(Mat 10:34-38) “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! No, I came to bring a sword. I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household! If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine.”
Jesus’ view of who our REAL family must be, if we are HIS disciples, and therefore Christians, is pretty radical, isn’t it? But who has the right to argue with Jesus and question His authority or wisdom on the matter? “You didn’t REALLY mean that, did you Jesus?” Our flesh doesn’t like these commands from Jesus very much. And if a regenerate person finds this challenging, what would we expect from a pagan?
What They Want
What does an unBelieving physical relative generally want, as it relates to their fleshly family? Most all unregenerate “family” members DESPERATELY desire cutesy “family” get-togethers, cooing at “grandchildren” (along with the accordion wallet photos 6 feet long), giving/trading “gifts”, eating large quantities of food, hollow laughter about carnal subjects, hugs, kisses, and warm fuzzies. They have little else of Real meaning in their lives, and so they must CRAVE physical realm “bonding” as a substitute. They may gossip about, or be angry with one another (other than at holidays), or see massive destructive sin in a “family” member, but it doesn’t matter. The “drug” of “physical family” is so strong that they can still fool themselves into thinking they are “tight knit”—though they have nothing much deeper than shallow surface relationships.
Physical family relationship is far inferior to God’s Way, and is simply a penumbra of God’s original intent, not the real thing. Jesus said that only this is REALITY: real relationships with Father and with real Family. And this Family can consist only of those that are born a second time as radical, supernatural, undivided followers of Jesus! Openness, sincerity, integrity, self-sacrifice, love, generosity, forgiveness, loyalty, trust, mutual-dependency through thick and thin, the spark of delight and fun...all based in the Truths of Jesus lived out together daily, in His Spirit. This is His Plan. Don’t mistake this for the very shallow “shadow” of family relationships, based on “we all have the same hairline and nose and last name,” so we should be “close-knit.” The “physical blood-line family gathered around your dinner table” as an entity complete in itself is not a concept you’ll find in Jesus’ Heart. This is not His Plan, based on His Teachings above, and many others.
See Through Spiritual Eyes
(Rom 9:6-7) “For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants.”
It is not that God failed to keep his promise to them. But only some of the people of Israel are truly God’s people, and only some of Abraham’s descendants are true children of Abraham. But God said to Abraham: “The descendants I promised you will be from Isaac.” This means that not all of Abraham’s descendants are God’s true children. Abraham’s true children are those who become God’s children because of the promise God made to Abraham.
From the beginning, God’s intent has been to see “family” according to the Spirit, not the fleshly offspring. “God sets the lonely in families.” The Real thing is seen through Spiritual eyes, shared in communion in the Spiritual realm with Jesus, and invested in by vulnerability of heart, love of the Light, and obedience to God. It has nothing to do with physical blood-line. Jesus surely made this point clear beyond debate. God’s Plan has always been that the “shadow” would never be indulged in, but rather it would point us towards “the Reality, which is in Christ” alone.
Coddling Will Kill
If you coddle, and cooperate with, and are cozy with unBelieving “family” (whether they are religious, or not—but still part of the world system), without reservation, without qualification, without speaking to them about their souls regularly in spite of social protocol, you are deeply hurting them and yourself. If you “join in the reindeer games” and just blindly DO the “family” stuff, at holidays and other times, do the chatty phone calls, photographs of the children, and hang out with pagans—you are no better than a drug dealer. You are giving a drug fix to a junkie. If you allow them to continue to build their lives, like the animal kingdom does, around physical realm, flesh and blood things to get their “highs”, you are defying the teachings of the Master, to your own detriment. Beyond that, you are contributing to your physical family’s destruction by giving them the substitute for True Family, and True Life—JESUS and HIS FAMILY, the CHURCH. It is not “love” to overlook things that Jesus has called fatal. “Keeping peace” (which truthfully is more likely to be either cowardice, or lack of relationship with Jesus on your part) is not “loving them” when you are allowing them to die without a real, consecrated walk with Jesus. Those that love the world are always “enemies of God”—and you allowed it to go on! Shame on you, if you have done this, in order to “avoid conflict” or to pad your own insecurities and fleshly desires for worldly affections.
Let me repeat a key point here. You must grasp this. Perhaps these “family members” are “churched,” but not truly living for Jesus. By Jesus’ Words, they cannot be saved unless they deny their very selves, take up their crosses daily, and radically follow after Him. Jesus was clear. They cannot be saved, unless they will do this, from the heart, and fall deeply in love with Him (instead of themselves, the world, and the things of this world, such as physical family, jobs, hobbies, etc.). Unless they ARE living for Jesus, heart-soul-mind-and-strength, they are NOT your family. That is IF you believe what Jesus articulated in the Scriptures written above. And if you don’t believe Him and want to live this way, then you should go be with and enjoy the company of, and bond with your unregenerate “family members.” Can you feel comfortable with them and depend on unbelievers? Do you have no deep groanings and difficulty laughing at their jokes? Can you hang out with them during endless carnal or shallow discussions, indulging shamelessly in their pagan feasts and gift giving and “family” bonding “drug” parties? If you can do these things, then you should question your own intimacy with God.
“How can two walk together unless they are in agreement?”
“Come out from among them and be separate,” says the Lord. “And then I will be your God and you will be My people.”
“If you love Me, you will keep My commands.”
“Bad company corrupts good character.”
Can you be good company to the unregenerate—with nothing at stake, nothing challenged, nothing changing...just partying with them on their level? (Maybe YOU don’t curse or drink as they do, but you are clearly “one of them” by how you distribute your affections and allow your children to be handled and entrusted.) If you can be “chatty” with them in a relaxed and familiar or intimate way, you are in serious trouble. If you can live with them, visit with them, travel with them, eat with them, “party” with them socially in an unchecked, unhindered, relaxed way, there is a very serious problem. If you enjoy all of that and “bond” with them without deep grief in your heart, you are probably one of their species as well. Unsaved. And you are only more deeply sealing their destiny without Jesus by giving them the “drugs” of “fleshly family” that they crave which is dulling them to the only REAL source of Life: Jesus of Nazareth and HIS Family.
Grieve As Jesus Grieved
When Jesus reached out to the unsaved, such as Zacchaeus, they were comfortable with Jesus only if they desired to repent. Obviously, sin was not overlooked, and the conversation was not carnal and worldly.
(Luke 19:8) But Zacchaeus stood and said to the Lord, “I will give half of my possessions to the poor. And if I have cheated anyone, I will pay back four times more.”
If you DO grieve deeply for your physical family, you cannot join in the pagan revelry and just be one of them. Of course you care about their well-being very much—primarily spiritually, and then otherwise, but you MUST NOT give them their demanded “drug fix.” You must not just go along with all of the building and bonding they desire, around flesh and blood. You may only build around Spiritual things, if you are a son or daughter of God.
Emotional Blackmail And Such
It is entirely possible to love pagan family, and reach out to them, and “honor father and mother”—WITHOUT giving them the “drugs” they crave. You’d be far better off visiting with them at times AWAY from “holidays” and times of the “drug fix.” And watch that you don’t bend to the emotional pleas or emotional blackmail. “If you REALLY love me then you will _______.” “If you’re REALLY a christian, then you will ‘honor your father and mother’ and do what we want you to do!” This is terrorism and emotional blackmail, and you must not give in to it. Drug addicts will always make demands and threats and emotional pleas for their “fix” but you are NOT doing them a favor by giving it to them. You can “honor” them (without the sin of giving away affections that must belong ONLY to Jesus and HIS Family) by showing kindness in other ways and at other times. We can visit, perhaps, at times and in ways that can center around Jesus, rather than the intoxication of “holidays” that “must not be ‘spoiled’ by these religious conversations.” Keeping Jesus always before them, rather than as a “side” topic that “we just don’t talk about,” is mandatory.
Jesus Is NOT A “Side Issue” Or “Private Matter”
Does someone you know want “religion and politics” to be “private” matters? Wrong. Jesus is everything, and must not EVER be relegated to a “side” topic. Only an unsaved church-goer would even be capable of leaving Jesus out of any relationship—whether co-workers or physical “family.” If you can bond with, and give trust and affection to, and enjoy the company of ANY unregenerate person in an un-challenged, non-Jesus-centered way, you have severely impaired your ability to know and hear and experience the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This applies to physical family, co-workers, childhood friends, neighbors, people that like similar sports, or whatever! You are robbing them of perhaps their greatest chance to have Eternal Life, and you are robbing yourself of fellowship with Jesus by disobeying and wounding Him. I’m not kidding. This is very important stuff. And I know the world and the religious world have probably never told you this. But it’s true! Jesus was serious about what He said.
SO, let’s get our perspective in tune with Jesus’ Teaching and Commands, and then we are free to really love people as He did and does—without mixing carnal sympathies, and worldly thinking into our relationships. We can “honor” them and love them in HIS way, and not from a place of sin on our parts. Please take this seriously, “to the praise of His Glory!”