And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him.  And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.”  And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?”  And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers!  For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” (Mark 3:31-35 ESV)
Looking at Mark 3 we see how Jesus turned the world of these Jews upside down. Family meant everything. Being an Israelite meant everything. There was great pride in being part of a certain tribe. The family, your blood relationships, meant everything. Jesus took them for a spin when he redefined the family as those who do the will of the God.
This was, and still is a fairly radical teaching. There is a saying that blood is thicker than water. But Jesus says otherwise. Through the waters of baptism we signify that we have joined the family of God whose bond is close than that of your physical family. Is that how you view the people sitting next to you? Do you view them as closer than your physical family? Do you see how shocking that is?
Ideally your physical family will also be believers and so be your spiritual family too. But let me just challenge you to think about one another as real brothers and sisters. Real family.
I believe that the first century church took this to heart because we see that it was almost the norm that they referred to one another as “brother.” 1 Tim 5 talks about how we should treat the older women in the church as mothers and the younger women in the church as sisters.
I want to create a church of real community and real family and real fellowship. Part of how we do that is through the words we use. The way the church has been speaking, for several decades now, concerns me. We are filling this space with less-than-biblical air. When we keep breathing less-than-biblical air, it gets into our lungs and into our bloodstream.
It makes me nervous when I hear pastors talking about being a CEO. That kind of thing just doesn’t compute. Since scripture regularly refers to the church as a family and regularly uses familial terms, we should think along those lines. At home I am not pursuing a career as a father and a husband. It is a calling, not a career. I am called to be a husband and a father. It would just be weird if my children referred to me as their division president. It would be odd for my wife to refer to me as her CEO. That’s not who I am. I am a husband and a father. My wife takes care of the finances in our home, but we do not refer to her as our CFO. That’s not who she is, she is a wife and a mother.
It makes me nervous when I hear pastors talk about their career goals. My family is not a corporate ladder I am trying to climb. It just doesn’t make any sense to talk about career goals as a parent or a husband. My family is not a business.
All these words give a sense of business rather than family. Another one that I hear a lot is church marketing. We often present Christianity as though Jesus were a product that we had to convince people to buy. Jesus is reduced to the level of a box of laundry detergent or a can of pop. But Jesus is not a product to buy, he is a King to be obeyed. We are not his salesmen, but his heralds. Let us breath the clean air of biblical relationships.