As a parent, if there’s one lesson that I’ve learned repeatedly over the years, it’s this: as much as I know that God has many things that He wants me to teach my children, He has an equal number of things that He wants me to learn from them.
Last night was one of those nights. All week I’ve been thinking/blogging about the idea of hearing God’s voice and discerning His will – how to make decisions and how to know what’s right, etc. And then last night, during our family Bible time before bed, we read this passage:
“Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:48-50)
After reading that passage, we discussed it together as a family and my kids came to the following conclusion: we need to obey God to be in His family.
Simple, yet deep – the perfect sermon in one sentence (don’t tell that to my son though because he’s already offered to give sermons in my place if ever want him to – that’s the son of a preacher for you!).
I took the message to heart and then moved on. Very nice, but that’s about it. But God decided that He wanted to hammer that message home with me this morning. I opened up my Bible for my daily morning quiet time and right now I’m reading through the gospel according to St. Mark.
Today I was on the second half of chapter 3. What’s in there you ask? Here’s what I read:
“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.” (Mark 3:33-35)
That’s not a typo or copy/paste error. THAT’S THE EXACT SAME PASSAGE! But this time it was from Mark 3 instead of Matthew 12 (it’s the same story just being told in two different places).
SAME MESSAGE, TWO DAYS IN A ROW. And what’s the message again?
We need to obey God to be in His family.
Isn’t that a bit bold though? Aren’t we all sinners and we all make mistakes and God still accepts us and loves us and all that good stuff?
Yes yes yes. I am not denying any of that. God’s love is infinite and so is His mercy. I’m not talking about past decisions here, but rather future ones. I’m talking about decisions yet to be made or in the process of being made – ones which we still have some control over.
The ones that we’ve already made are already behind us. We repent and we move on. I’m talking now about the decision you are contemplating right now… or the one that will present itself on Friday night after work… or the one that will tempt you when you’re alone with that person. Those are the decisions in question and with regard to those, I’ll repeat what my lovely children concluded:
We need to obey God to be in His family.
Think about it this way. Imagine a son that refuses to listen to his father and rejects all that he tells him to do. The dad says “Son, go to school” and the boy refuses and drops out of school. The dad then says “Son, get a job” and the boy refuses and just sits in front of the TV all day. The dad says “At least mow the lawn since you’re doing nothing with your life” and the boy refuses and says that he considers playing video games as doing something.
Can you say that that boy is a true son to his father? Clearly the boy is choosing to reject his dad’s fatherhood. Yes he is still a son biologically, but not much more than that. He needs to listen to his father in order to regain that life of true sonship.
It’s the same with God. What gives me my standing as a child of God is not biology or heritage or ancestry. It’s not because I know the secret password or because I do the fancy rituals. What makes me a son of the Most High is that I am obedient to the leading of His Spirit. If He isn’t an active part of your life – leading you and guiding your daily decisions – then how can you consider yourself His child?
That is why the Lord taught us to ask for “our daily bread.” It’s why life with Jesus isn’t just about obeying a set of rules, but rather it’s about a living relationship with His Spirit within us. It’s why we need to make time to commune with God regularly and consistently. Why? Because that is what makes us His children.
“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Romans 8:14)
For discussion: in what area do you need to allow the Holy Spirit to guide you and guide your decision making?