Physical Family Relationships
Thought for the day...
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 and 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 bloodline” 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?
Jesus CLEARLY redefined “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)?
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 hundred fold 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 (Mk.10:29-30).
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” (Mk.3:33-35).
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!” (Lk.11:27-28).
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” (Lk.9:59-62).
“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” (Mat.10:34-38).
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 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 “grand children” (along with the accordion wallet photos six 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 relationship. 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 bloodline 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.
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 (Rom.9:6-8).
“For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants” (Rom.9:6-7).
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 bloodline. 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.
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.” And if you can feel comfortable with them and depend on unBelievers? If you have no deep groanings and difficulty laughing at their jokes? If you can 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, 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” (2Cor.6:16-18).
“If you love Me, you will keep My commands” (Jn.14:15).
“Bad company corrupts good character” (1Cor.15:33).
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 sealing their destiny without Jesus more deeply, but giving them the “drugs” of “fleshly family” that they crave and dulling them to the only REAL source of Life: Jesus of Nazareth and HIS Family.
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 conversation carnal and worldly. 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” (Lk.19:8).
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.
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 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.
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 churchgoer 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 unchallenged, 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 above.
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”!
Hey Family. : ) Some merged correspondence regarding the “Thought for the Day” ....
In His Grace and Life, with a bunch more of the Family here : )
Greetings in Jesus,
Just need to ask a question about the “Thought for the Day” email. I know no one is ALLOWED to say this kind of thing, but most people I know THINK it, and then butter it up with excuses and diversions so it doesn’t LOOK like this is their problem: But, WHY DO THOSE VERSES YOU QUOTED MAKE JESUS SEEM LIKE A MEANIE AND LEGALIST? I know, as I said, most people just want to evade the issue and blame shift, and try to hide behind falsetto greek run arounds. That is not honest. Humanistic arguments such as, “Surely Jesus wouldn’t...” don’t hold up to the actions or Words of the Historical Yahweh, or His Son. I am tired of that. BUT, I still don’t “LIKE” what Jesus said about “defining family”! I feel stuck by email sometimes because it doesn’t relay tone very well, and I promise I’m not trying to be rebellious. I’ll do anything He wants, but I just don’t “get it.” Is Jesus saying we should be “emotionless” towards biological family? I know we are defined by our Second Birth (for those who have truly had one), but what about “emotions”? Help me out? Gotta scoot.
Love in Abba, Frederick
I don’t view email as the best way to dialogue on “emotional” issues either. Sometimes it IS more thorough, since there is a “record” of the tone and content that emotions can often make us forget. And, at the moment, it’s all we have, so I’ll proceed. Pardon the speed!
Just for reference, many many people (from different countries just this week) have read that email and the Scriptures contained therein, and were (in spite of great personal trial) “soft” in response. May God fill them, protect them, and love on them forever! They didn’t view it as harsh, even with SO much at stake as a compromising spouse or child or parents. The email wasn’t harsh, nor was Jesus “legalistic” and “unloving” for those “terrible” things He said in that email, when the Scriptures were quoted. He wasn’t “harsh” for saying those things He said—I promise. : ) There is a better way to see it, as it seemed these others (whom we barely know) could see it.
Obviously nowhere in that note did it say “emotion is wrong.” It never said anything like that. They obviously didn’t think it said that, or they couldn’t easily have referred to it as one worded it—“startling, but gracious.” Emotion isn’t wrong. However, BEING CONTROLLED BY ANYTHING OTHER THAN THE LIVING JESUS AND HIS WORDS certainly IS wrong (Jn.12:48; 1Jn.2:3-6, etc.) “If you love Me, you will obey My commands.” It is the CONTROL issue—anything or anyone whatsoever OTHER than Jesus controlling our decisions, feelings, fellowship, and actions—that is absolutely, positively wrong and sin.
For me to “look at the rich young ruler sadly, and LOVE him” is RIGHT. Ahhh! EMOTION! : ) See? Jesus DID have emotion! : ) AND YET... For me to chase after the rich young ruler and “let him come along for awhile” because I love him—would be SIN. Why is that “SIN”? Because Jesus wouldn’t! He wouldn’t compromise Truth or allow a person’s heart to be divided and still be allowed to be called His disciple, a “christian”—and therefore neither are we permitted to do so. We must feel about lukewarmness (Rev.3:16) EXACTLY as JESUS does, or we are fighting against God, and can be of no “lasting fruit” use to Him.
“You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions” (Heb.1:9).
Our “love” is an “addiction” if it controls our actions. “NO man can serve two masters.” Grasp this: If you “love” mom Sapphira and dad Ananias SO much that you would not have been essentially supportive of their death sentence and execution, then you don’t love God “with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” Wow! True. If you “love” the rich young ruler “more than Jesus,” so “you” would never turn such a contrite and humble man away—you don’t love God as your “raised hands in worship” would imply. Ouch! But True.
Ohhh YES! LOVE THEM!! Love them. LOVE them. LOVE THEM VERY MUCH! And don’t ever stop, or “isolate” as long as they are willing to listen and not put “conditions” on you! But, of course, loving them in Truth is VERY different than “open fellowship” or “affectionate embrace.” Consider again, for God’s Mind on the matter, the “rich young ruler” and the “prodigal son.” And then, consider Israel throughout the thousands of years of Biblical History. Read Isaiah chapters 1-5. Read Habakkuk. Read Joel. Read Amos, or just Amos 3:2 if you want. How DOES God treat those whom He loves deeply? And therefore how must we, if we are His? “It is the same now.” We’re not at liberty to “create” a “new” form of “Church” or “Christianity” and still call it by Jesus’ Name. Ouch!
As for emotions—I love emotions. : ) Have quite a few myself, actually. : ) AND, I take Advil from time to time. Sometimes cold medicine. And I enjoy a StarBucks with the best of them. BUT, we must NEVER allow anything to CONTROL OUR ACTIONS except Truth in the person of Jesus Himself. When I sensed I was enjoying coffee to the point that I wouldn’t like it much if I didn’t get a few cups a week, I QUIT DRINKING COFFEE FOR TEN YEARS, just to eliminate any influence it could have on my moods or decisions or desires! “NO man can serve two masters.” If it INFLUENCES our decisions, it IS a drug.
SO, do consider carefully the rich young ruler or a rebellious child (such as the prodigal son). To love them is VERY normal, if not ESSENTIAL! That isn’t the Issue at all! But to allow that “love” to influence our decisions, rather than Truth (running after the prodigal or the rich young ruler to make a better deal for them) is SIN, idolatry, addiction. LOVING is great! SIN is not. Pretty simple really.
I, too, as you said, know that most people like to explain away, or ignore entirely, those VERY POWERFUL SCRIPTURES FROM JESUS HIMSELF in that email you refer to. But, I wouldn’t recommend doing that. When such a person is asked what those Scriptures DO mean, it is interesting over the years that those who hate those Scriptures only want to tell you what they think the Scriptures out of Jesus’ mouth “don’t” mean—but can never lucidly explain what they DO mean. WHY can’t they explain what Jesus WAS saying in these powerful and clear Scriptures? Because they mean just what they say, and THAT is unacceptable to most people—so they just try to throw them off. Bad campers.
Anyway, HERE is the point, really. I learned a LONG time ago that God is not trying to harm us or rob us—and that when we take things JUST AS HE SAID THEM, we find power and life and blessing and protection that we can never have when we try to “outsmart” or “out-love” God by squirming out of His Commands and Truths. We gain what we “wanted” in a way that is FAR superior to what we could have derived for ourselves doing it “our” way. The rich young ruler and the prodigal son got a chance to REALLY live, because of the TRUE love of God, applied correctly without prejudice or carnal sympathy or self-serving motives. They got a TRUE chance to be ALL THEY COULD BE, and to be SAVED from themselves by Jesus’ kind of love—the kind of Love that the “psychologists” protest so violently. This CHANGE in them could never have happened if they were “loved” in a false love. God knew this, and lives this Way with us as well. “WE” never see these Truths on our own, unless we have the guts to live it out His way.
Wouldn’t it all “make more sense” to the finite human brain and emotional makeup if Jesus had never said all of those Scriptures in that email you refer to? But that’s not OUR choice. We’re just created beings, and some live to honor Him with abandoned obedience. Some “deliberately forget” and make their own “guidelines for living.” Of course there is a terrible end result from that “way that seems right to a man” that Father is trying to spare us from, by His “unorthodox” Wisdom.
Well, I would be glad to dialogue as much as you like about what Love is, and how wonderful the real thing is, and all related topics. “TRUSTING GOD” is really the topic here, when you get down to it. If HE tells you to do something, will we TRUST that He knows what He is talking about, and respond regardless of how we “feel”? I vote a resounding “YES”—but I know I’m in the minority. Jesus said “FEW” will walk that way. I can’t change the Scriptures, though at times I would “like” to. It would be SO much easier to “go with the flow” of the sentimentality of the human race, and its religions. But, alas..... as Martin Luther said, “I’ll recant when someone can make those Scriptures go away”—and I’ll invite as many as I can into His Ways in the meantime.
Summary: Emotions are great—a gift from God. If they CONTROL or HEAVILY INFLUENCE our thoughts, behavior, or decisions, they have been allowed to become SIN in our lives. NOTHING—not coffee, not emotions, not pain killers or food or shopping or friendships or our bathroom mirror... NOTHING is allowed to control us except JESUS and His Word. Emotions are the icing on the cake, and are not permitted to be an addiction that controls our behavior the way an alcohol or ecstasy “high” would affect our behavior or “relieve the pain” artificially. God’s Ways are better anyway. : )
Hope that helps!