Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Jim Packer, in Keep in Step with the Spirit, mischievously comments that there exists no contemporary account of holiness, so he will perforce write his own. He begins by suggesting that the New Testament view of holiness has two components - the idea of being set apart, and the idea of being morally pure. Coincidentally, I read this passage from Matthew's gospel this morning (Matthew 10:34-39 Msg):
"Don't think I've come to make life cozy. I've come to cut—make a sharp knife-cut between son and father, daughter and mother, bride and mother-in-law—cut through these cozy domestic arrangements and free you for God. Well-meaning family members can be your worst enemies. If you prefer father or mother over me, you don't deserve me. If you prefer son or daughter over me, you don't deserve me.
"If you don't go all the way with me, through thick and thin, you don't deserve me. If your first concern is to look after yourself, you'll never find yourself. But if you forget about yourself and look to me, you'll find both yourself and me.
I've always found Jesus' statement disturbing. Is he against families? Jim Packer proposes a paradox: the detachment implied by our being set apart for God enables us to be more loving towards family members, neighbours, friends, etc. Possibly. There is a state called codependency which is regarded as unhealthy; maybe if we are firmly dependent upon God, we can be more real towards our fellow human beings.

1 comment:

Karin said...

I think it's more that he doesn't want families to get in the way of living God's Way. we can selfishly want 'the best' for our family without concern for others. We can be very wrapped up in our families. We can also act as if everyone should be married and raise kids or they're not really welcome in our church.

I don't think Jesus had no regard for family life at all, but it probably gets in the way of following Jesus in a really radical way. I think people mattered very much to Jesus, so he wouldn't want us to neglect our families, just not worship them instead of God.