A House United

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Today’s readings (click below to open in new tab/window):
Psalms 104; 149, 1 Samuel 22:1-23, Acts 13:26-43, Mark 3:19b-35


Jewish religious leaders were beside themselves trying to explain the popularity and power of Jesus. When they said his ability to cast out demons came from Satan, he replied: “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.”

At this time his mother and brothers were growing concerned for him, so they called to Jesus from outside the house where a great crowd had gathered.

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! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.”

We can hear this a couple ways. The first is a dismissal, if not quite a rejection, of his family in favor of his followers. The second, more in keeping with his comments about a house divided, is an expansion of the definition of family; an expansion which includes all who dedicate themselves to God.

Ironically, Saul invited Jesus’s ancestor David into his house, and the resulting division threatened all of Israel. Because the people loved David more, Saul no longer saw him as a member of his faith family, but a dangerous rival. When his son Jonathan conspired to save David’s life, Saul’s rage was uncontrollable. He slaughtered eighty-five priests and their city of Nob because he believed they had helped David escape him. (In reality, they believed David was still serving Saul.) David, who believed Saul was God’s anointed king, had no plans to harm him.

Like so many divided houses, this was a one-sided war.

When we experience conflict with other believers, let’s not make Saul’s mistake and assume they are out to destroy us … and thereby become what we fear. Through Christ we are always challenged to expand our definition of family, even when that expansion feels threatening.

Jesus said “My father’s house has many rooms.” We don’t all have to sleep in the same one.


Additional Reading:
Read more about today’s passage from Mark in Just. Plain. Crazy.

Comfort: You have more family than you know.

Challenge: Find someone who is a member of your church, family, neighborhood, or city who thinks differently than you do. Have a conversation about what common good you agree on.

Prayer: I give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness. (Psalm 138:2)

Discussion: Are you a member of a divided “house?” What do you think can unite it?

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