Sunday 21st June 2020
I hope and pray that this letter finds you well and looking forward to greater freedoms in the coming weeks.
Families it is said can be a source of great comfort and joy but also can drive us up the wall! Not just those members we live with but ones in our wider family too. You may be thinking that during lockdown some of your family members have really been driving you crazy whilst others who are on their own may be thinking the opposite. Families take many forms and every culture has a different way of treating family members with varying expectations and concepts. The ancient Middle Eastern tradition of family meant when someone was ill, or widowed or unemployed; the expectation was that the family would rally around to help. In practice this often meant having family members move into your home to be looked after. Remember Jesus on the cross exhorting John to look after Mary and treat her as his own mother, this was despite Jesus having other living siblings.
Our gospel reading today continues in Matthew 10; verses 24 – 39, with this very stark and challenging assertion that we should love our mother or father, son or daughter less than the love we show for the Lord Jesus Christ otherwise we are not worthy of Him. Both words ‘love’ and ‘worthy’ are direct translations from the original Greek, the translators have not added emphasis or changed terminology, this passage has always been this hard hitting. Jesus does not mince His words at all here. He is asking us to put love for God above and beyond that of our family. However, He does not stop there but calls us to take up the cross and follow Him. In other words, to give our all in our service to Him and in doing so lose our life. This does not necessarily mean martyrdom but serving and following completely the plan to which God has called us. I also should point out here that this does not mean we shouldn’t love and care for our family too, but it must seem like that in comparison to the devotion that we show for God.
So, how can we, give our life so that we take up our cross daily to follow God. I believe it means that our focus should we always on God, He is the One we should start out day with in both prayer and scripture reading, He is the One we should turn to when making important decisions, He is the first call on our time, finances, resources and talents. I am not pretending this is not a tremendous challenge because it is. We are told that when we give wholeheartedly to God, that God will bless us; this should not be the motivation though because we should serve God because we both love Him and want to. Who or what motivates you, who do you prioritise in your life? Does God feature in your most treasured list? Jesus challenges us all; make me your number one.
May the Lord Jesus; who is the same, yesterday, today and forever, bless you and your family today and always.
Every blessing in His precious Service, Andrew.