The Redefinition of family
Being welcomed into a Gospel family changed my life. I had real access to believers who loved Jesus and loved me. Their love for me broke down walls and exposing me to the love of Christ in ways I couldn’t fully recognize at the time. They refused to see me as I saw myself. They refused to reject me when I rejected myself. They made space for me even when life was busy and over time, they reproduced themselves in me in ways I am still recognizing.
Jesus could have brought the Kingdom message in so many ways. He could have set out by Himself, moved through the religious sects, rose to power quickly by knowing the right people. But, He didn’t do any of that. Jesus found a family. He grabbed some guys on the outskirts of town and invited them into relationship. Family was the way He would bring His message to the world.
After His time in the desert, Jesus’ ministry picked up speed quickly. His message of Grace and Truth was such a radical teaching that it turned all the wrong heads. The religious were up in arms and at the crowds desperate to fall at His feet and find the redemption He offered. In Mark 3, a large crowd gathered in the house where Jesus was teaching. So many people it was probably standing room only. In the midst of His message, Jesus’s mom and brother arrive at the house in hopes of bringing their beloved family member back home. They feared all the uproar and wanted their Jesus out of harms way.
“Then Jesus’ mother and brother arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone in to call Him. A crowd was sitting around him, and they told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.’”
Jesus loves His family. Love is who He is. But when His mom and bro come hoping to quiet Him down, his response turns heads. “’Who are my mother and my brothers?’ then he looked at the crowd sitting around Him and said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers!’ Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.’”
In one sentence, Jesus redefines family as something so much bigger than just blood and origin. Jesus was sent with a purpose and his purpose would be made possible with His people. From that moment, Jesus gathered His Gospel family close and fought the urge to look back on what wasn’t.
Gospel family consists of individuals called to and empower by the love of the Father. God is such a good Father, that He chose family as His method of transformation. Religion wouldn’t change the world, relationship would. Gospel family, walked out with grace and truth, brings healing to individuals, marriages, children, addicts, the traumatized, the lonely, and so many more.
People don’t need invited into another weekend service or fancy building. They needed invited into healthy relationships. We don’t have to do Gospel family perfectly (that’s why we have Jesus), but the Gospel messages says; we have to do it. Family is His story of rescue.
- Gospel family teaches identity.
When Jesus called His disciples it wasn’t about what they had to stop doing to join Him. Because it wasn’t about what they were doing at all. The Gospel is first about relationship and out of right relationship comes responsibility. It is an invitation to the table where sons and daughters can feast on His abundance. We are not invited because of what we can or can’t do. We are invited because of who we are. Sons and daughters of the Most High God.
Gospel family doesn’t waste time worrying about who people are not because the Gospel is about who they are.
The Gospel sees people as God sees them, past any problems and into His promises
2. Gospel family teaches security.
Security is about safety. It’s the freedom in knowing we belong. I’ve never grown in my faith while living in fear. The Disciples were Gospel family and they knew they had a seat at the table. Because of their confidence, they could find the faith to step more fully into the Kingdom. Failure wasn’t a threat to them because they had nothing to lose.
Fear and faith cannot coexist. If we invite new family into our communities and they are too fearful to activate their faith, then breakthrough simply will not happen. Gospel family creates space where fear falls off as people walk through the door and freedom the causes the level of faith to continually be on the rise.
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear; because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”
1 John 4:18
We cannot mess up the Gospel. It’s God’s plan for redemption and He isn’t banking on our strength to unleash it. We do not fight for victory, we fight from victory.
3. Gospel family teaches rhythm.
Jesus didn’t check in with His disciples. It wasn’t through once a month coffee appointment that He was able to invest so deeply. It was in everyday life and access. He walked with them, had access to them and invited them to do the same with Him. People are not projects needing to be done; they are relationships waiting to be had. Family is what happens as we do life together. Not one more thing to do, but rather a life waiting to be lived.
“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
Jesus invited us to live life like Him, to come to Him, imitate Him and ultimately become more like Him. Jesus was not one to give into the demands of the culture around Him. I highly doubt He ever struggled with where to fit in discipleship or how to get together with His spiritual family. He didn’t struggle because He wasn’t compartmentalized. Because of the Gospel, the pieces in our lives don’t have to compete with one another. Rather, they can compliment and build upon each other. When we learn to live in rhythm, we really do have space in our lives to do what Jesus did.
4. Gospel family teaches reproduction.
Healthy things grow. They multiply. It’s the design behind family and necessary for the spread of the Gospel. Jesus reproduced himself in His disciples and then His disciples – these every day, ordinary, uneducated men, reproduced themselves in the lives of those around them. Discipleship done right is taking what we have and giving it to others, until they can take what they have been gained and turn and give it to others. As the spiritual family grows deeper we will naturally grow wider because we have more people able to give.
Gospel family gives us the opportunity to hang out with people who know what we don’t know and therefore provides us with opportunity to learn what we haven’t learned. It also provides the opportunity to invite others in to learn what they haven’t.
Jesus brought His disciples into His family. He didn’t fear their failure, rather He partnered with it to renew, redeem and restore them into their right identity as sons and daughters. He believed in them because He knew who lived within them. He never gave up, never turned His back, never passed up the opportunity to help them more fully recognize who they were and ultimately He gave up His life for them. All before they ever did anything to earn or deserve it. And, all the while knowing they never could.
When the church begins to become family members with names instead of buildings with signs the world around us take notice.
When we no longer possessively cling to our chairs at the table, but rather, we aggressively pull out chairs for others; heads will turn. Our culture needs a family. They need a place to belong and people to believe. They need a hand to hold as they let go of fear and activate faith. This is what the Gospel is all about and family is our chance to make it known. Think about the people you live work with everyday. The moms who you sit with a dance studio, the dads in the office lunch room, how might the Gospel make the compartments of your life complimentary rather than competitive? How might you embrace your Gospel family and create a place where people find identity, security, rhythm and reproduction?
The Gospel mission isn’t meant to make us tired, it’s meant to set us free!