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An occasional blog by Robin Turpin

July 1, 2023

In the words of the immortal Doobie Brothers “Jesus is just alright with me”. In fact, he’s better than just alright.

On Sunday, Pastor Sandy’s message addressed one of the most confusing statements uttered by Jesus ever when he tells his followers to love their enemies -- but to turn against their own family members. This is one of those statements that many Christians tend to push to the back of their minds and ignore because it’s just too inconsistent with our image of Jesus as an all-round nice guy who has a great relationship with his Mother. Specifically, he said “whoever loves father and mother more than me is not worthy of me; whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and whoever does not take up the cross and follow me is not worthy of me”. Geez Louise! Does this mean Jesus is advocating for a full-scale break-down of our social order? Not a bit of it, according to Pastor Sandy.

We have to remember the context within which these words were made. After the Romans nearly destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D., the Jewish community felt the need to circle the wagons in order to survive. So they started attacking anyone who threatened their survival – including the growing Christianity movement. As Christianity spread, sometimes family members embraced these new beliefs, and sometimes they didn’t – effectively tearing families apart at the seams. Sound familiar? Down the ages families have been torn apart by differences in religion, politics, gender expression, and views on human rights, among many others. Jesus was emphasizing the importance of following your heart, even if this is in conflict with your family. Then Jesus takes this even farther and redefines family as those who follow his Father – his heavenly Father. And this kinship is the most meaningful and eternal of all. Wow! Pastor Sandy not only cleared up my confusion, but expanded my family exponentially. I think I’d better start my Christmas shopping now…

So, if being your authentic self and following your beliefs results in familial conflict, remember Jesus’ words about finding your true family. With thanks to the Doobie Brothers:

“I don’t care what they may do

I don’t care what they may say

Jesus is just alright, oh yeah”.

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