“Blood is thicker than water,” is another, meaning that family relationships are more important than those between unrelated people. I think to Christians, though, the sad truth of the matter is, “Blood is thicker than the waters of baptism.”
How many times have you seen a preacher change his views on an issue when suddenly it involved his family instead of someone else’s? How many times has an elder of the church shown a difference in how he treated the sins of one member and the sin of another based upon his family relationship with them? And how many times has a family left the church disgruntled, or taken up for their wayward kin, when the church’s obligation to discipline fell upon that sinner? Many seem to forget that Jesus plainly told us, “He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me.”
Jesus loved his earthly family. He made a point to give his mother over to the care of her nephew John, even while he hung in agony on the cross. Yet when the family came to see him while he preached, he asked those who informed him, “Who is my mother and who are my brethren? And he stretched forth his hands to his disciples and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! For whoever shall do the will of my Father who is in heaven, he is my brother and my sister, and my mother,” Matt 12:48-50.
The Jews counted heavily on physical relationships. More than once they proudly claimed, “We have Abraham as our father,” to which Jesus replied, “If Abraham were your father you would do the works of Abraham,” John 8:38-40. John told them from the beginning of his ministry, “Do not begin to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father for I say to you that God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham,” Luke 3:8, so this was not a new thought, and it plainly shows how little physical relationships mean to God.
We could multiply the verses telling us that physical parentage is not the most important thing, but rather one’s spiritual parentage. Abraham, as the father of the faithful, is usually the one designated as our spiritual patriarch. This also makes the point to the Gentile Christians that they did not have to be physically related to that great believer to be his children, and they were not second class citizens because they did not have a physical Jewish heritage.
“…that [Abraham] might be the father of all who believe, even though they be in uncircumcision,” Rom 4:11.
“…which is of the faith of Abraham who is the father of us all,” Rom 4:16.
“And if you are Christ’s you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise,” Gal 3:29.
“For verily not to angels does he give help, but to the seed of Abraham,” Heb 2:16.
And especially to the women, “Even as Sarah obeyed Abraham…whose daughter you are as long as you do well,” 1Pet 3:6.
It does not matter who your parents are. It does not matter where you came from. It does not matter your race or country of origin. You are the children of whomever you take after. That is the meaning of so many metaphors in the scriptures. Are you a “son of disobedience?” You are if you disobey. Are you a “child of light?” You are if you walk in the light. It is the spiritual aspect of a person that determines his spiritual end. And that couldn’t be fairer, because while we cannot control who our physical parents are, we can control who our spiritual parents are. Doesn’t that make it even more wonderful when those physical parents are also part of your spiritual family?
If you are not living right, don’t blame your parents or society. Abraham came from idolatrous ancestry, having grown up in an idolatrous culture, Josh 24:2. Yet he is the very one given as an example of faith and obedience. If he can overcome his heritage so can we, and if our heritage is a godly one, we of all people have no excuse.
The waters of baptism have given us new parentage, a Father in Heaven, and new siblings, both here and in Heaven. When we believe that physical relationships trump the spiritual, when our obligations to God are put aside for the sake of a family member, we are not just disowning the members of the church, but also our Father and Older Brother in Heaven. We are saying that physical blood means more than spiritual water that put us into the sacrificial blood that frees us from a life of sin (Rom 6: 1-14). No wonder he said He would deny us if we deny Him.
They answered and said to him, Our father is Abraham.
Jesus said to them, If you were Abraham’s children, you would do the works of Abraham…
[They said] We have one Father, even God.
Jesus said to them, If God were your Father you would love me…Why do you not understand my speech? Because you cannot hear my word. You are of your father the Devil, and the lusts of your father it is your will to do…When he speaks a lie he speaks of his own, for he is a liar, and the father thereof. But because I say the truth you believe me not…For this cause you hear not—because you are not [children] of God, John 8:39-47.