After the two days he departed for Galilee. (For Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in his own hometown.) So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast. For they too had gone to the feast. John 4:43-45
This is one of Jesus’ overlooked best moments, because he just finished spending two days with a large group of Samaritans who were soaking up everything he had to say. But now, now he turns his attention to his hometown, Galilee, where last time, his friends and family took offense when he spoke.
Blaming Burned Pizza On My Wife
The other night I was tasked with picking up a couple of Papa Murphy’s pizzas for dinner. When I arrived home my wife Kathy said, “I already warmed up the oven. Just read the directions and put in one of the pizzas.”
So I did that–sort of. I read the directions, I just didn’t follow them very well. The directions said to cook the pizza at 425 degrees for 12-18 minutes, and to be sure and check it at 10 minutes.
So what do I do?
I ignore the temperature setting on our oven, throw in the pizza, and set the timer for 15 minutes. “That oughtta do it,” I said to myself. Then I plopped down on the couch and checked my phone to see what NBA games were on that night.
Fifteen minutes later, we had burnt pizza. But rather than accept responsibility, I’m embarrassed to say, I tried to pin it on Kathy. This is not an original strategy and by way of example, I offer the story of original sin. When God asked Adam, “Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you that you should not eat?”
Adam said, “It was my wife’s fault.” (Genesis 3:11-12)
Who Your Family Sees
The last time Jesus taught his friends and family in his hometown of Galilee they were offended. And in Mark chapter 6 Jesus said, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.”
Familiarity affects our perception. In the fire department we used to joke that an expert is just someone who lives at least 50 miles away.
In Jesus’ case, in spite of his perfection, it was familiarity that caused his audience to take offense at him. In my case, and in yours, the way we’re received by family is also affected not just by familiarity, but by our bad behavior too. There is no question that for most everyone, our families see us at our worst. To help us with our family relationships and friendships, I want to share three points to keep in mind when things get tough at home.
1) Frequency and failure rate: Quite often on an NBA team it’s the point guard who has the most turnovers. If you know basketball you might be asking yourself right now, “How can that be? The point guard is supposed to be the best at taking care of the ball.” And you’re right, the point guard does have the best handle, and he’s usually the best passer too. But he’s also the one who has the ball in his hands the most. He does the most passing and he does the most dribbling. So there’s far more opportunity for him to turn the ball over than there is for the other members of the team. And that’s why he often winds up with the greatest number of mistakes when the stats come out at the end of the night.
When it comes to family we’re in a similar situation. Our family members see us the most. And they’re also the one’s who see us at our most vulnerable: when we’re exhausted, or when we’re hungry, or when we’re desperate to decompress. And those tend to be the times when we fail, those are the times we find ourselves at our worst. It’s that way for you, and for me, and for just about everybody on the planet. So take heart, yes you fail with your family, but you’re not alone.
2) You’re not immune: You’re not immune to this dynamic. You’re perception is affected too. So keep in mind that your own perceptions of your friends and family members are skewed by familiarity also. Your best possible approach is to set high standards for yourself, and to show grace and forgiveness to those around you.
3) Come back to them anyway. Jesus’ family and friends in Galilee didn’t believe in him the last time he visited, but he returned anyway. If you feel rejected by family and friends, you might feel tempted to reject them right back. Don’t. Jesus didn’t respond that way. He came back and, as we see from our text, they responded to him with more warmth, at least in the short term.
God put the people in your life (especially family) for a reason. Stick with them (barring an abusive situation). While Jesus was perfect, of course you and I are not: God uses tough relationships to grow us into the people He wants us to become. God uses tough relationships to conform us into the image of Christ.
No one ever grew in an environment absent of adversity.
So yes, living out Christ is toughest with friends and family, but come back to them anyway.
You can too.
(Image via Isriya Paireepairit, Creative Commons)