While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak with him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.” He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:46-50
I remember the first time I read those passages as a young person trying to find my way to God on my own. I was shocked. This Jesus was getting way too big for his britches if he was too busy to stop what he was doing and go and speak with his family! It was only after many years of living, and much heartache, that I finally realized the true meaning of these passages.
When you are the first (or perhaps the only) member of your family to accept Christ as your savior, it doesn’t always go well with the rest of your birth family. In fact, it rarely goes over well at all. Families, even though dysfunctional (as all families are in one way or another), are always somewhat balanced because every member has their role to play. By being born again, you change, and that majorly upsets the family dynamics. You will probably find that your family will do everything they can to bring you back to who you were before.
We don’t want to turn our backs on our families. In fact, we’d love nothing more than to have them all take this journey with us. And, it is our fondest prayer that they too find faith so that we can all spend eternity in God’s kingdom. The harsh reality is that you can’t make anyone want a relationship with Jesus and usually, the more you push it, the less they will want it.
But, it is also a fact that the differences in you cannot be hidden. You are changed, and there is no denying it. So, while I did my best to never “witness” or brag or become bossy, my family still resented who I became. They all wanted the “old Ann” back. In a very big way this contributed to me being estranged from my birth family and that is more than a little painful.
So, last week when I saw pictures of smiling siblings popping up on Facebook in honor of “National Sibling Day”, it hurt. A lot. I turned to my Father in my pain and He reminded me that I did have a family. A family He had provided for me. A family who loves the “new Ann” and are proud of the choices she has made. A family who uplifts, and doesn’t tear down. A family who believes in God’s word and trusts Him with their lives.
So, next year, I will put up my own sibling pictures. We are a rather motley crew of flawed people who have been saved by the grace of Jesus. We are short and tall, young and old, pierced, tattooed, and most of all … thankful.
So, who are my mother and brothers and sisters? The people God brought into my life. We are family in the truest sense of the word. And, that is a beautiful thing to celebrate.