Pr 1-2; Mat 10; Psalm 74
Often we hear from certain parts of the church a clarion call about ‘family values’ – meaning the Huge significance we are meant to place upon the health of the (implicitly nuclear) family. Failing marriages – prodigal children – lack of harmony in ‘the home’, are all seen as contrary to God’s plan in the sense that ‘God’s plan is for healthy families.
Someone doesn’t seem to have told Jesus . . .
We have already seen how the Gospel breaking into the world is breaking down what to the Jew was the most sacred of boundaries – betwixt Jew and Gentile – yet Jesus goes far far further even than this. He is forming a new people – expressed in the 12 apostles – where blood and race in effect, count for nothing. Now ‘family’ means those who are following Jesus. The ‘family’ that we are so fond of or long for is understood as a barrier to the Kingdom.
We see this worked out in all but the rarest of church settings. Endless courses given on marriage and family life – single people finding themselves on the fringe – pastors with families sought after, for they set before us an image we dearly want to cling to – but we cannot. We have to let go of this. Jesus demands our total allegiance.
Jesus then establishes something far more life giving, the community of faith where every act of hospitality is an act of hospitality to him.
Such talk seems extreme to us, but our perceptions of the significance of ‘family life’ and marriage owe far far more to Christendom, to the world in which we live in which such structures are understood to be at the root of strong community – ironically this very strength immunises us against the gospel. It also locks out the other.
This is the life we have to lose to discover a far richer and fuller life in Him.