Krista and I have just returned from a weeks vacation with her family and it has served as a week of relaxation, fun, and reminders.
I have been blessed with two wonderful families, my own and my in-laws. Both have served me in amazing ways and my love for each continues to grow. My own family has alwasy been dear to me and I owe much thanks to God for them; they have, in large part, made me the man I am today. As I continue to grow in my relationship with them and my in-laws I thank the Lord simply for the creation of the family unit. It is in the first chapters of Genesis that God establishes the home, and he did so before he ever created the church or the state. This says alot about the importance of this institution. How some can run off and leave their families without a second thought, without any hesitation is to me amazing. Why so many children grow up never knowing their grandparents, or hardly knowing them is mind boggling. It use to be that famalies lived in the same homes, now they hardly live in the same areas. This week has served as a reminder to me that the family is an important institution, established by God, for the pleasure and development of His people. It has served as a reminder of how much I need both these families and how much I love them.
Yet, it has also served as a warning. The love of the extended family is, I believe, an honorable and godly thing. But for those men and their immediate families who serve in the ministry it is to be held in view of another love- love for Christ and the gospel ministry. Christ clearly states:
Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take up his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.
These are harsh and startling words. They are coupled with, however, an amazing promise from the very lips of our God and savior. Christ says in Matthew 19:29, "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name's sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life." What a promise. It deserves to be commented on here.
First note that it says those who leave family "for my name's sake." This is not an unqualified promises guranteeing blessing for those who abandon their families. The family is important to God, that is why elsewhere we read Paul speaking against those families who leave their widowed mothers to take care of themselves. Those who can should stay near their families and take care of them.
But note secondly that those who do leave family to serve and honor the name of Christ, to do ministry work, will receive God's blessing. These are the ones that Christ speaks of as "worthy of Him." Not that they are worthy because of their work, but because the work of the Spirit in them has granted to them a greater desire for Christ's glory than for their comfort.
I love my families and I pray that the Lord would grant my wife and I to be near them in the ministry, but should He not- we will go, knowing that He rewards the faithful, and knowing that our ministry glorfies His name!
In the end we may rejoice that those who are Christians have a bigger family than their immediate and even extended ones, they have a family that goes beyond the bounds of the geographical and even temporal world: that is the family of all those who belong to Christ, both near and far, both past and present. What an amazing gift the family is!