Thursday, April 29, 2010


I’m certain that many of you can identify with difficult family relationships. Maybe sharing my response to the following questions recently posed to me will be helpful to some of, as well.

“What do you do when you realize that you have outgrown certain people in your life and it’s your family? I seriously have absolutely no desire to be around them! I do it out of ‘family responsibility.’ How do you extricate yourself from those negative relationships without feeling guilty! I’m trying to do the whole ‘honor thy mother and father’ thing, but find it very hard most times.”

While I’m comfortable sharing what the Lord has taught me about relationships, I must preface my response with an acknowledgement that I still don’t have this area all figured out and often fail miserably!

As we walk with Jesus
and become increasingly transformed into His image,
we can expect that our approach to life
may be understood as judgment upon and rejection of
family members who aren’t growing along with us.
Even Jesus’ family faced this:

• When Jesus’ family heard about His life-style, “they went to take charge of him, for they said, ‘He is out of his mind’” [Mark 3:21].

• Jesus’ response? “Who are my mother and brothers? Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother” [Mark 3:33].

From an earthly perspective, Jesus’ response doesn’t seem honoring or loving. Yet, we must always use Him as our guide. What kind of relationship did Jesus have with his earthly family?

While the world places a great emphasis on “family responsibility,” I’m not aware of any other Scripture that specifically describes Jesus’ relationship with His earthly siblings and there are very few regarding His relationship with His earthly parents.

Jesus does, however, talk about relationships between believing and unbelieving family members. The inevitable result of Christ’s coming is conflict between them!

“For I have come to turn “a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, … a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household” [Matthew 10:35-36].
“Brother will betray brother to death, and a father his child. Children will rebel against their parents and have them put to death” [Mark 13:12].

I also long for deeper relationships. Yet, I’ve learned that letting go of my vision of them causes me to draw closer to and be more dependent upon Jesus and His vision of family. While this can be very painful, I’m finding that this is exactly what He desires!

“Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and anyone who does not take up His cross and follow me is not worthy of me” [Matthew 10:37-39].

Although I can’t identify any Scriptural guidelines regarding frequency of visits or calls, attending “holiday” celebrations, gift giving, etc., Jesus’ expectations for earthly relationships are obviously different from those of the world;

• When Jesus said, “Follow me” …the man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow you, Lord but first let me go back and say good-bye to my family.” Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God” [Luke 9:59-62].

It seems that being about the Father’s business often makes it impossible and even unnecessary to fulfill the world’s standards!

Keeping all this in mind, let’s consider the Biblical image of honoring our parents and how we are to respond to “negative family relationships” next Thursday.


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