Our friends and families know us best. They can be brutally honest. They know the real us–strengths and weaknesses. This was even true for Jesus. Just take a look at the first miracle he ever performed:
Three days later there was a wedding in the village of Cana in Galilee. Jesus’ mother was there. Jesus and his disciples were guests also. When they started running low on wine at the wedding banquet, Jesus’ mother told him, “They’re just about out of wine.”
Jesus said, “Is that any of our business, Mother—yours or mine? This isn’t my time. Don’t push me.
She went ahead anyway, telling the servants, “Whatever he tells you, do it.”
Six stoneware water pots were there, used by the Jews for ritual washings. Each held twenty to thirty gallons. Jesus ordered the servants, “Fill the pots with water.” And they filled them to the brim.
“Now fill your pitchers and take them to the host,” Jesus said, and they did.
When the host tasted the water that had become wine (he didn’t know what had just happened but the servants, of course, knew), he called out to the bridegroom, “Everybody I know begins with their finest wines and after the guests have had their fill brings in the cheap stuff. But you’ve saved the best till now!”
This act in Cana of Galilee was the first sign Jesus gave, the first glimpse of his glory. And his disciples believed in him. John 2:1-11 (The Message)
Sometimes our biggest leaps in growth as we endeavor to become more outward focus will occur when we stop, look and listen to how those closest to us perceive us. Recently my father was in town and he took my brother and I out for a steak dinner at an expensive restaurant. Over an after-dinner drink and cigar, my father and brother, agnostic on their best days and pagans on their worst, expressed something that broke my heart:
“You know, I thought this church thing would be just a fad with you. I am glad you stuck with it, it has made you a better person in the long run. What I still don’t get about you and all this God stuff, is why you seem to love strangers more than your own flesh and blood.”
Wow. I was dumbfounded. How do you respond to such a brutal observation? They were right and I knew it as both of them proceeded to tell me how it made them and the rest of the family feel when I seemed more concerned with serving and loving others rather than my own family. It was a type of intervention that could only be done by men smoking cigars. It was heart-wrenching, but quite true. I had slipped out into the dangerous rapids of the OUTFLOW lifestyle and did not realize it. I was grasping onto flotsam and jetsam of this world, any that passed by, rather than taking hold of things of value.
It has long been a secret torment to me that I have had smashing success at evangelism with people I don’t know, meanwhile just about my entire family resist all forms of God and despise anything religious. Don’t misunderstand what I am saying here. I would never lay a guilt trip on anyone about their ownership over their family’s salvation. In fact, I guess I am just thinking aloud here as I write this. I mean, if you are a regular reader of Serve! magazine, chances are you are an expert at servant evangelism. That raises a question though. How good are you at serving those closest to you? This month we are going to pause and consider this. There will not be any articles from me in this issue. Instead I am calling on wiser voices to address a serious need. How do you serve your friends and family–the people that know you best?
Here is what I do know. The bible passage above can be very helpful in this. Look at the interaction between Jesus and his mom. Maybe I am reading more into than is actually there, but I see two things in the subtext of the passage:
- 1) Jesus seemed a bit perturbed at his mother being pushy and telling how and when do ministry.
- 2) His mom did indeed know best. It was a very powerful miracle and seemed to solidify his disciples from a ragtag band of loose cannons into a cohesive team
So what can we learn from our families and the experience of serving them? Read the rest of this issue to learn from some of the best voices on the topic!