I was studying for my message this week, as I prepared to talk about “Jesus preaching in his Hometown” from Mark 6: 1 – 6 and some thoughts came to mind surrounding our ministry to the people closest to us. Over the years the hardest people for me to minister to is my personal family, including my wife’s family. They know me, they have watched me, they know my family, and they know my history, good and bad. This is not a new experience, and even Jesus shared in this struggle:
3 Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t his sisters here with us?” And they took offense at him.
Wow! I can’t help but hear a little sarcasm, resentment, and hate when I read these words. No matter what Jesus did, the people closest to him still refused to see him as anything other than the boy from down the street, as the lowly carpenter.
The truth is, we may not be able to change how the people closest to us choose to look at us. Whether you are new to faith or have been a Christian for many years, those who know us best have this funny way of holding on to an older image of us that they can’t let go. Maybe they still see us as a child, or maybe they still see us as the alcoholic. No matter how they choose to see us, Jesus reveals some steps we can take to ensure our family and friends still have the opportunity to choose salvation and hope.
1) Preach Anyway: Jesus is God in flesh, so he knew exactly what kind of reception he was going to get when he returned home. This did not stop him from going and speaking truth, and it should not stop us either. They may not have accepted what Jesus was saying but in verse 2, it is clear that they saw the wisdom in his words.
2) Show Compassion: I love that even though the people in his hometown were not listening to him, he still took time to heal some people while he was there. We may not be able to get people to listen to us, but look for the small moments where you can still demonstrate God’s love within the challenging circumstances.
3) Leave Town: This is a huge challenge for so many Christians in their evangelistic efforts. We beat our heads against a wall trying to push people into a relationship with Jesus, but at the end of the day, it has to be their choice. Jesus said his piece, and then he left.
4) Raise a New Generation: Just after this passage, Jesus dispersed his twelve disciples to go and do ministry. The disciples were his next generation. For me, my kids are my next generation. For you, the next generation may be a youth group you lead or some neighborhood kids. Regardless, if you are not going to be the one to reap a harvest in your family or close friends, be sure to plant a new generation of seeds that can.