..and the crowd came together again so that they could not even eat. When his family heard it, they went out to restrain him, for people were saying, “He has gone out of his mind.” And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem said, “He has Beelzebul, and by the ruler of the demons he casts out demons.” And he called them to him, and spoke to them in parables, “How can Satan cast out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand, but his end has come. But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his property without first tying up the strong man; then indeed the house can be plundered. “Truly I tell you, people will be forgiven for their sins and whatever blasphemies they utter; but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit can never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin”— for they had said, “He has an unclean spirit.” Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.” And he replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 35 Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.” [NRSV]
It is worth noting that if you ‘Google’ the phrase, “a house divided” first reports quotations of President Lincoln’s “House Divided” speech and only as a second or third listing does the search report the words of Jesus found in Mark 3:20-35. (Matthew 12:25, Luke 11:17)
But keep in mind is President Lincoln, drawing on the passage from Jesus that his audience would have instantly recognized as such. Thus crossing the lines of faith and government calling on a divided people to look ahead, beyond the chasm of disagreement to the hope he expresses later in the same speech:
“The Presidential inauguration came, and still no decision of the court; but the incoming President, in his inaugural address, fervently exhorted the people to abide by the forthcoming decision, whatever might be.” (*)
He called for the people to have hope in finding unity whatever would be decided, North or South, slavery or no slavery, Left or Right. Indeed this passage from Mark’s Gospel likewise calls us to focus much less on what divides us and cling to that which binds us.
This is an Interesting discussion and teaching on the division of the family.
Many things divide families: Money, Politics, Selfishness, Debt, Apathy, and Addictions
Many things threaten families: The things, ideas, beliefs and enemies that do not have the best interest of the who ‘whole’ family will always offer solutions that attempt to satisfy themselves over the family.
- Half of all families end in divorce is confirmation that neither the church nor the society model a strong family model.
- Drugs and Alcohol addictions and the lifestyles that follow never build up the family, except for those who band together to take advantage of one another.
- The quest to have the things, the house, the toys, the style, the technologies and have us place our dreams and hopes in objects that rust, wear, fade, decay and must be continually replaced, repaired and remade.
- The family is a threatened and undermined with the more individualistic our society and world becomes.
One lie we about technology is that it brings families together. While it is true that distance for the moments we choose to connect, there are more moments that family members are in close proximity to one another, yet each watch different screens, devices, and distractions. The lure is that these ‘things’ can help connect us, but they also isolate us.
Many things entice families:
Also, there are other relationships, temptations, desires and goals that entice both individuals and families to seek love, happiness, joy, and peace in things that are temporary, unattainable and evil, even in the name and intent of being good for the family.
Mark reminds us Jesus’ words that evil, satan, and all persons consumed by evil, will work divide the people of God.
- This passage is about Jesus’ own family worried that Jesus was not getting enough to eat, (Mary must have been stereotypical mother… you need to eat Jesus)
- Second the religious leaders threatened by the crowds and the teaching and healing Jesus was negatively affecting their crowds, teachings, and support, so they called him names and try to demonize Jesus, saying he was bad, he could do nothing good, he will be filled with evil, even, in fact, THEY were the ones doing this to Jesus.
What do you do when your own family, your community and your faith leaders are divided against one another and you as well? The tendency is more isolation and withdrawal. Wrong answer.
Here we finally get to Jesus’s teaching about how to overcome the division:
God is graciously ready to forgive the strongest of people who have done the most unthinkable things with two things occur: 1) They remember the powerful and wonderful gives of God’s grace is real and actually available for us all. 2) When the most self-righteous, the most self-reliant, the most selfishly focused person recognized they have not been doing what is faithful to God, to God’s people nor to themselves. We take God up on the grace, confess our brokenness and turn back toward a life in God.
God doesn’t force this on us, but stands ready and hoping we choose to reconcile to God, to return to the heart of God, to stop the divisive talk, the hurtful behavior, the attacking thoughts and untwist our hearts and minds and words toward God’s word and God’s love.
THE EXCEPTION: What is the unforgivable sin?
The sin we will not acknowledge as sin. The evil we re-name, re-frame, dress up to look and sound good and righteous but are not found in God. Thus we are saying God can’t make me whole, God can’t save me. God can’t be in my life. God doesn’t care. God is made up an idea to satisfy weak and illogical fearful masses. God is not with us.
When we think, believe, act and say these things God will not force us to believe, God will not make us believe or trust or repent. God is willing to allow us to move so far that we no longer recognize that God is still with us.
Here is the test? As long as I am offering my thoughts, actions, future, self to God all sin is forgivable, but if we don’t want it, God’s not going to force.
The gift is MEANING. It means something when e choose to let God love and claim us, even when we have rebelled and divided and demeaned and harmed ourselves and others by leading each other away from God.
The example follows that Jesus’s flesh and blood family come to take him home, to save him from the ridicule and threat and he REDEFINES family. The family is about being blood-kin in the saving blood of the lamb that was slain. The family is those who acknowledge we have sinned, been completely self-focused, self-identified, self-determined, self-made, self-righteous, self-absorbed, self-funded, self-driven, self-saving, STRONG but with the wrong strength.
- The strong family is the family trusting God with our problems.
- The strong family is the family that is revealing God’s story and hope to a divided world.
- The strong family is the family uniting in following God’s call, word, and love.
- The way out of the division in our family is to NOT write one another off but to reach out to one another offering Jesus Christ.
Sometimes we don’t know what divided or divides us, but we clearly experience the consequence. It is actually unimportant to blame and get back to the original cause. Our hope is in what we are becoming, together, in Christ.
- Where there is division: We have the opportune time to confess our sins and seek God’s leading.
- Where we separate” We have but to turn to Christ and invite our neighbor to join us in Christ.
- When you hear someone say: She or He is nothing but evil, then join them on a journey to share the Heart and Word of God.
- This is our calling.
- This is our gift of grace
- This is our family
Be filled with God’s word AND heart, be forgiven in Christ, Be strong in the word and Holy Spirit.
#wayforward #GC2019UMC #UnitedinChrist #allsinnersmatter