While he yet talked to the people, behold, [his] mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.Matthew 12:46-50
There came then his brethren and his mother, and, standing without, sent unto him, calling him. And the multitude sat about him, and they said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren without seek for thee. And he answered them, saying, Who is my mother, or my brethren? And he looked round about on them which sat about him, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother.Mark 3:31-35
Then came to him his mother and his brethren, and could not come at him for the press. And it was told him by certain which said, Thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to see thee. And he answered and said unto them, My mother and my brethren are these which hear the word of God, and do it.Luke 8:19-21
Family is important. I do not doubt that nor do I argue against the point. God designed the family. In fact, He revealed His will for the family long before He showed how He should be worshipped in the Old Testament or the structure of the New Testament church. In the first few chapters of Genesis, we see God’s design for the family. If family holds that prominent a place in the Bible, then we should regard it with very high honor.
Having said that…
Jesus plainly shows where our priorities should be. Consider the strong language Jesus uses:
If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.Luke 14:26
Jesus does not mean that we should do hurtful things to our natural family or even neglect our care for them. His key point is the phrase “his own life also.” Jesus is saying that He should come first in the mind of a disciple.
Jesus is not disrespecting the family institution, He is teaching us where our devotion should be placed. Our devotion to God comes first. As a result of that deep devotion to God, we are able to love and care for our family as God would have us to do.
When we consider this, how do you think God feels when we choose to have family reunions, activities, or vacations that take us away from Lord’s Day worship? These decisions do not honor God nor do they thank Him for the gift of family. It is certainly “easier” to go along with family and be drawn away from church, but wouldn’t it be better if we led our families toward God?
I think I can boil all this down to one question: Is our family getting in the way of the One Who gave us the family?
I encourage us all to honor God with our family rather than it being a point of conflict or contention.