Meditations on Mark: Family in the Kingdom of God

Meditations on Mark_cvr_wing_c

Mark 3:31-35

Few wounds cut deeper than those inflicted on us by our families. I have known plenty of otherwise strong and accomplished adults who still carry in their spirits the pain of broken relationships with parents, siblings, or children.

This is an indication of the family’s importance in God’s plan for humanity. The family is the single most important socializing agent in a person’s life. Families are also hugely important when it comes to evangelism. Most (though clearly not all) of the people in church today came to the faith primarily through the influence of family.

That’s why the church needs to come alongside families to encourage and equip them in their ministry to each other. The day before I wrote these words, we dedicated a young child during our worship hour at church. It was a beautiful moment that stood as a sign of the family’s and the church’s covenant with one another to raise the child in the faith and point him to Jesus.

But let’s be clear: the nuclear family is not the end-all, be-all of the kingdom of God. Jesus didn’t come into the world just so we can all have 2.5 kids and a white picket fence. As today’s reading makes clear, a wider family transcends and even takes precedence over the blood relations that tie us to each other. Jesus says that the true family consists of all those who do the will of the Father.

If you are blessed to have been nurtured into the world through a healthy family unit, then know that your experience among those people is not meant to be an end unto itself. It is meant to point you to the wider and greater reality of God’s kingdom family, and to the nurture that only God can provide. If, on the other hand, you have experienced pain or enmity at the hands of family, then know that there is a wider and greater reality of God’s kingdom family, and that the nurture you need can only truly come from God. As Psalm 68:5-6a reminds us, “A father to the fatherless, defender of the widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families.”

That’s why the church’s greatest ministry to families is the ministry of baptism. In baptism, we welcome new believers into the one true family, the only family that transcends time and place and race, the one family that joins all believers together as children of the one true Father. Through baptism, we all belong to each other, as surely as if we had all been brought home from the same maternity ward.

Despite what others may say, water is thicker than blood.

Lord God, thank you for taking us from our alienation and loneliness and placing us in your family. Help me today to nurture the bonds that I have with my brothers and sisters of the faith. May I never take them for granted. Through Christ, Amen.

meditations_on_mark_xsmThis post originally appeared in Meditations on Mark: Daily Devotions from the Oldest Gospel by Chris Cadenhead.

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