The Best Family We Can Be
Pastor Joe Miller IV
Periodically, I will sit at church and just watch people. I see young ones, some with a rebellious streak a mile wide just running around looking to get into some trouble, while others sit there obediently or sometimes too afraid to move. I’ve seen teenagers in groups hanging out laughing and carrying on and some doing chores around the church, all of them trying to find themselves. I’ll see young married couples, some walking around holding hands still living in the honeymoon, while others are social distancing from each other and not because of Covid but because things aren’t well on the homefront. I’ll see the elderly walking around, some with scowls on their faces being critical because of too much change and others being gracious and loving to those around, understanding they were young once and encouraging everyone to stay faithful.
Sometimes when church is over and the sanctuary is emptying, you’ll see a group standing there, and a particular person has hair still wet from getting baptized, all celebrating together, and then you’ll see a couple of people off to the side: one in tears going through a trial and receiving some counsel, just trying to make it through. Some in celebration, some in mourning.
There are approximately 570 members at our church, and that means we have 570 different personalities with different abilities and gifts - even different viewpoints that come with strengths and weaknesses depending on the attitude (proud/humble) of each member. And I love them all. The different levels of spiritual maturity, the different personalities and viewpoints, and even the victories and trials that come with it cause me to be a better brother and more profitable member of our church, because God uses these people to help me grow. Our differences should cause us as a family to be stronger, but that is not always the case.
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
Two sisters, same mother and father, same Saviour, two totally different personalities which mean two different gifts and desires, and two different points of view. We see Martha: a driven, in-charge servant receiving Jesus into their home, running around, cleaning, and preparing the meal. We also see in John 11:20, when their brother, Lazarus, dies, Martha heard that Jesus was coming and left Mary to run out and meet him, taking charge of the situation and even questioning Jesus in verse 21 and then trusting Him in verse 22.
In the meantime, while Martha was working and serving, Mary was just sitting there listening to every word Jesus said and everything was going well until pride crept into Martha and she judged and questioned Mary’s actions or lack of action. Jesus gave His point of view to Martha in verses 41 and 42. In other words, ‘don’t allow temporal things of this world to distract you from knowing Me more.’ He didn’t say what Martha was doing wasn’t important, but what Mary was doing was needful.
I wonder what the situation would have been like if Martha would have left her proud point of view out of it and just served, which was her gift. Maybe asking Jesus and Mary both as they sat there, ‘Do either of you need a drink or is there anything I could get you two?’ Would the situation and their relationships have been better if Martha would have just served?
There is also a parable about two brothers in Luke 15:11-32. We see the younger brother with a rebellious side (don’t judge, we all have one) taking his inheritance and squandering it on the things of this world. But in verse 17, Jesus said the younger son ‘came to himself.’ In other words, he came to his senses, humbled himself, and returned to his father. His loving, gracious father received him with open arms. But the elder son was a different story when he heard about his own brother returning and his father having a celebration. Because of the return, the older son became angry and wouldn’t take part in the rejoicing. But the loving father sought out the elder son and even listened to his point of view in verses 29 and 30.
And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends: But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
The loving father didn’t leave it at that, but gave the angry, jealous son the father’s point of view in verse 31 and 32.
And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine. It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.
We don’t see how the elder son responded to his father’s correction, but I wonder how things would’ve been if the elder son would have been more like his father - not just in work ethics, but in the love he had for his family and their relationships. Instead of being jealous, pointing out the faults of the younger brother, reminding his father how good he was (his own point of view), what if he had been excited by his brother’s return? What if he had run to his brother, even paved the way for the younger brother to return back to the family - how would it have affected the family and especially the father? I think sometimes in our