One of the great dangers facing the church today is family worship. Not the lack of families worshipping at home. Not the lack of families sitting together in church and worshipping together. The great danger facing the church today is the worship of the family.
“Family” has become the prime reason for not attending church and getting involved. “We don’t attend church because … we go camping every weekend … our kids play soccer on Sunday morning … we’re so busy and Sunday is the only day the kids can sleep in …”
We have elevated family above church, and even above God.
In Mark 3:31-35, Jesus said that our earthly families are not the most important thing in life. There are some things that transcend mom & dad and sisters & brothers. Jesus said that his true family consists of those who do his will.
Mark 3:20-35 uses a bookend approach to address a topic. Verses 20-21 and 31-35 address the subject of family while 22-30 looks at the topic of the unforgivable sin. Another way to look at the passage is that 3:20-35 deals with the subject of opposition to Jesus. Opposition by religious leaders (22-30) is sandwiched between opposition by family members (20-21, 31-35).
As the passage opens, Jesus is so busy ministering to people that he doesn’t have time to eat (20). His family comes to take control of the situation (21). People naturally assumed that once Jesus heard they were outside (31-32), he would stop and make time for them. After all, the Old Testament affirmed the importance of honoring mother and father.
Jesus, however, explains that some things are more important than our earthly families. He points out that his true family is not made up of blood relationships (33), but rather by those who do his will (34-35).
That naturally leads to the question, “What is God’s will for my life?” Normally, we have in mind what school to attend, whom to marry, what career to pursue, etc. In contrast, Scripture presents the idea that God is far more concerned about who we are than what we do. Believe me, God cares about what we do. But he is more concerned about who we are. If we are the right person, we will do the right things.
Scripture present six specific things that are God’s will for each and every person. Regardless of our age, sex, educational background, economic status, or personal opinions, God wants to see these characteristics in each of our lives.
God’s will for each of us is to be …
- Saved (2 Peter 3:9; John 6:39-40). God doesn’t want to see anyone go to Hell. His desire is for each person to have their sins forgiven.
- Spirit-filled (Ephesians 5:17-18). God doesn’t want us to live under our own power. He desires each of us to be controlled by the Holy Spirit.
- Sanctified (1 Thessalonians 4:3-7). God doesn’t want us to be consumed with pursuing sin and personal pleasure. His plan for us is to pursue a lifestyle of holy living.
- Submissive (1 Peter 2:13-15). God doesn’t want to chafe against and resist authority. His desire is for us to willingly submit to those in authority over us.
- Suffer (1 Peter 4:19; 5:10; 2 Timothy 3:12). God’s plan is not focused on our personal happiness. It is focused on our holiness. That will include being persecuted when we take a stand for Christ.
- Thankful (1 Thessalonians 5:18). God’s plan does not include whining, complaining, cynicism, and negative thoughts. God wants us to focus on what we are thankful for.
God’s will for my life, and yours as well, is first and foremost a relationship with him. Only those who do God’s will are truly members of his family.
This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Baptist Church in Chicopee, MA, on January 18, 2015. It is part of a series in the Gospel of Mark. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.