In Mark chapter 7 Jesus attacks some Pharisees who use their devotion to their faith to avoid their responsibility to their parents. Jesus is not antifamily, even though this little incident may seem to say so. What he is saying here is that blood is not thicker than water. We know that when the chips are down, family loyalties usually rule over most other considerations. Here we see that this is not to be so. It is not merely that "water is thicker than blood." This is not about baptismal ties taking precedence over family.
I am not to have loyalty to the Uniting Church before my family. Too much abuse has been done to clergy families by the church, and by clergy, to their families, with that interpretation. Our family is those who are doing the will of God.
As we stood filling the intersection of North Terrace and King William Street protesting the Iraq war, that meant my family was the Anglicans and Catholics, and the Muslims too. Perhaps even at that moment it meant the socialist youth who are (it is reported) so firmly manipulated by the Trotskyites. And just as many a person has repeated their love for a family member, but not supported some endeavour, so we must sometimes say in church, "You are my friends, but I cannot go here. This us not the call of Christ, or the will of God."
Blood is not thicker than water, and baptism does not come before God.
Direct Biblical quotations in this page are taken from The New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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