God has been speaking into my heart about the importance of family and being the husband and father that He’s called me to be. We’ve talked about living a lasting legacy earlier this year but today I wanted to look back and see how our family of origin can affect whom we become. In his famous book, “The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are,” Christian Psychologist and Author Kevin Leman made this powerful statement:
“How parents interact with each child as he or she enters the family circle determines in great part that child’s final destiny.”
As a parent of two daughters, I think about that all the time. Leman outlined some common characteristics of how depending on whether you were born first, in the middle or the last child, aka “the baby,” that placement in the family tree had a huge impact on the trajectory and development of your personality DNA. The first-born commonly is known to be driven and very responsible in all they do…The middle child often feels overlooked and desires peace so they play the role of the negotiator in the family…And the “Baby” gets away with murder, and tends to be the comedian of the family…Now of course there are exceptions to the rule, these are just generalities, other factors can plat a part. (If you would like a great summary of the book I saw this article called 10 Ways That Birth Order Affects Your Children.)
Suffice to say, the Family Juggernaut plays a significant role in our development. Now depending on your sex, and/or if you were a comic book reader as a child, right now images from X-Men stories of “The Unstoppable Juggernaut” are coming up in the rolodex of memories. Supervillain, Cain Marko who was the stepbrother of Charles Xavier, also known as Professor X, was abused by his father as Charles became the favored “son.” Resentment and animosity festered in Cain’s heart. One day he received superhuman strength that literally made him unstoppable and gave him the power to destroy the one who replaced Cain in his father’s heart.
The biblical comparison of Cain and Abel is hard to miss, (see Genesis Chapter 4). Now though this may be a bit of a rabbit trail, I think it’s apropos to show how family dynamics can shape you. Cain’s hatred and jealousy both in the comic book and the Biblical account led to a murderous rage. It is also where I first learned the word juggernaut which means:
“A huge, powerful, and overwhelming force or institution.”
And that is what the family is! An overwhelming force in our life that has a huge and powerful influence on us. Jane Isay, the author of “Secrets and Lies, Mom Still Likes You Best, and Walking on Eggshells” had this to say about Families that was quite interesting:
“Families are the survival mechanism of the human race. They all are complicated, even though many people think that theirs is the most difficult one. Behind the closed door of every home is a group of people who love each other, who disappoint each other, who come into conflict, and who are deeply connected.”
Amen? Now I don’t know much about her, nor have I read the book, but I am sure familiar with competing with my brother and sister for the love of my mom and consequently walking on eggshells as to not break the delicate peace and harmony in the home. I love how she described the family unit, as the “survival mechanism of the human race” and that families are all “complicated.” Truer words have never been spoken! Statistics show that many people would probably answer the question, “What’s your family like?” with the curt response of…
I know I would have to say that of my family of origin. My family was wrecked by neglect, alcoholism, drug use, verbal attacks, physical abuse, and adultery all by the time I reached 5 years old! Not surprisingly, that was the year that my parents divorced. I shared in the ★ Thought for the Day – Marriage & Money – Part 1 ★ post how my childhood felt more like a chess match where I was a pawn pinned between the King and Queen who were battling one another, using me to hurt the other. I know that the conflict I witnessed and was a part of shaped my desire for peace in my home today. I also know that at times when I lose my temper that is also a result of seeing how both my parents handled (or didn’t) conflict resolution. But here’s the beauty of walking with God, my legacy can be changed through the power from above. But it is a choice. Romans 12:2 (ESV) says:
Great advice right, but how do you renew your mind? And how do you know the will of God? Glad you asked, through a quiet time with God. Praying, reading the bible, journaling are all ways that you can be transformed. Recently during my quiet time, I have been reading the gospel of Mark which was the muse for this Thought for the Day…Have you ever thought about Jesus’ Family Situation? What it was like growing up as the Messiah, the Savior of the World? How was it to have half brothers and sisters who grew up and knew Jesus for 30 years before His ministry started? Unfortunately the Bible does not give much background other than that Jesus followed in the path of Joseph, (the man who raised him as his own Son) and became a carpenter. Mark 1:14-15 (ESV) recounts the start of His Ministry:
“Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’”
The Gospel of Mark moves at a rather brisk pace recounting the ministry of Jesus over the next two chapters with people being healed who were lepers, disfigured, paralyzed and set free demonic possession. It’s interesting to note that after some time had passed, Mark 3:20-21 (ESV) we see what happens when Jesus goes to visit His family. I wonder how many people will relate to this experience.
“Then He [Jesus] went home, and the crowd gathered again, so that they could not even eat. And when His family heard it, they went out to seize Him, for they were saying, ‘He is out of his mind.’”
Did you catch that? Jesus’ ministry is exploding and lives are being changed as a result of incredible miracles but “His family heard it, they went out to seize Him, for they were saying, ‘He is out of his mind.’” How sad that Jesus’ own family did not believe He was the Christ! A friend of mine and me were talking about this point and he made an interesting point…
“Makes me wonder what was it like for Jesus’ family while he was growing up? If his own family couldn’t see Him for who He is, maybe it shouldn’t surprise us when folks don’t get it.”
Seems INCREDIBLY HARD TO BELIEVE, but just 10 verses later, you can see Jesus definitely had doubters in the family…Mark 3:31-35 (ESV) records:
And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.”
And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said,
“Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.””
These verses always confounded me because why would Jesus not want to go see His mother and brothers? Could it be that they did not support His ministry? It seems that would be the case as He makes the declaration that “my family” are those who do the will of God. The passage does not mention Joseph so the assumption is that he’s not alive at the time of Jesus’ ministry, especially when you consider John 19:26-27 when Jesus is dying on the cross and arranges for His disciple John to take care of His Mother when He’s gone. I can understand Jesus’ brothers doubting, but Mary? Did she miss the point? Did she forget all the miracles that happened in order for Jesus to even be born? We did a 25 day series of posts called #Reason For The Season last Decemberwhere we looked at the extraordinary events leading up to, and including Jesus’ birth and why we should be thankful during the Advent Season. (If you have not read the posts I highly recommend you click the link and spend some time experiencing the familiar Nativity Story from a fresh perspective.) Personally, God opened my eyes and heart in a new way to His indescribable love for me. As I meditated on the events that happened over 2,000 years ago, I was astounded by how He moved heaven and earth for the possibility of having a relationship with me through sacrifice of His Son Jesus! I just heard John Gray preach at Elevation Church’s Code Orange Revival and he made this profound statement:
“Do you understand how valuable you are? That an eternal God gave up His most prized possession just in case you wanted to have relationship with Him. He didn’t even let His Son die for an ‘absolute.’ He let Him die for a ‘just in case.'”
God gave up His most prized possession just in case we wanted the relationship with Him!!! Wow!
Okay back to Mary and Joseph… I have to wonder though did they not share with Jesus’ siblings growing up with something like, “Oh by the way kids, your older brother Jesus, well He is the savior of the world.” I mean I know it would be awkward at first but it was truth. We can see that it was not only His family who doubted but also those in the His community as well. Mark 6:1-6 (ESV) tells what happened when Jesus returned to His home again:
“He went away from there and came to His hometown, and His disciples followed Him. And on the Sabbath He began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard Him were astonished, saying,
“Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to Him? How are such mighty works done by His hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?” And they took offense at Him.
And Jesus said to them,
“A prophet is not without honor, except in His hometown and among His relatives and in His own household.”
And He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them. And He marveled because of their unbelief. And He went about among the villages teaching.”
“They took offense at Him!” 30 years of living among these people and they take offense at the wisdom God gave Jesus! It is clear that Jesus’ family of origin and community had an effect on Him to the point that it thwarted His ability to do a “mighty work there.” One could argue that healing anyone is a mighty work, but how much more would Jesus have done if there was not so much opposition and unbelief. If Jesus was not understood by His Family and hometown it should not surprise you when you are.
The key is what will you do when not if you face opposition? Will you let fear, doubt and criticism stop you? Without a doubt, our birth order and associations will influence and impact us but will we make the choice to rise above the past and move forward to become the man or woman who God created us to be? Jeremiah 29:11 says:
Remember you are so valuable that God gave up His Son just in case you want to have a relationship with Him! And it is through that relationship that His plan and purpose for your life will be revealed!
And for the believer let’s continue in what the author of Hebrews commanded in chapter 3, verse 13:
“But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” Hebrews 3:13 (NASB)
Walk today with new purpose today because you are part of a NEW Family Juggernaut as a child of God!
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