April 20, 2003


Mark tells us in Mark 3:31-35, that as Jesus was teaching the multitude: "Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, 'Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You.' But He answered them, saying, 'Who is My mother, or My brothers?' And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, 'Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.'"

There are at least three points we want to make from this passage of Scripture. First, Jesus did not consider His mother to be basically different from any other person who seeks to do the will of God. It should be noted that Jesus had proper respect for His mother. While He was a Child, He was obedient to her, Luke 2:51-52. After He became a Man, He continued to take special interest in matters of concern to her, John 2:3 As He was dying on the cross, He made special provision for her to be cared for in His absence, John 19:26-27. But He put the will of His heavenly Father above that of His earthly mother.

Second, note that Jesus had some earthly brothers, Of course, they were not full brothers, but only half-brothers. They were not conceived by the Holy Spirit as Jesus was, but apparently were sons of Joseph as well as sons of Mary. One large religious body has long insisted that Mary never had any children in addition to Jesus -- that she remained a virgin perpetually. The Bible clearly indicates otherwise. The Bible says that Jesus was her firstborn Son, Matt. 1:25, not her only Son. Later, she gave birth to the brothers and sisters of Jesus. Further, the Bible says Joseph "did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son." The word "know" is used here in the sense of marital relations. Joseph certainly was acquainted with Mary before Jesus was born, but he did not have marital relations with her until after her firstborn or oldest Son had been born. Later, he did "know" her, and she gave birth to James, Joses, Judas, Simon and all His sisters, (apparently three or more), Matt. 13:55-56; Mark 6:3,

Finally, and most important, Jesus noted that spiritual relationships take precedence over fleshly relationships. At the time of our text, Jesus fleshly brothers did not accept Him as the Messiah, John 7:3-5. Happily, after His resurrection, they did come to believe, and two of them, James and Jude, wrote books of the New Testament. But while His own flesh and blood were rejecting Him, He had a much closer relationship with those who were His spiritual brothers, It is His spiritual brothers who become joint-heirs in the heavenly inheritance, Rom. 8:13-17.

--Clarence R. Johnson


In 1977, I was THE president - not of the country but of the PTO in Uvalde, Tx. As an interested parent I attended a local PTO meeting when they were electing new officers for the coming school year. My name was put forth, then seconded, and a vote was taken before I could take a breath to object - there I was THE PRESIDENT. I was praised for my outstanding qualifications and unselfishness to SERVE - I suspected a short time thereafter that I really wasn't elected president because I was so good, just because no one else would take the job.

That organization had a charter that ruled it and stated its purpose and function as an organization. Even as president, I understood that I could not act out of harmony with the very purpose for which it existed. There were times when I acted as THE president working in harmony with the organization of parents - I was president for the whole year but I didn't function as the president all the time. Also, the organization collected dues and conducted fundraisers to finance projects to help improve the education of our children. Even though I was the president, I never confused its resources with my own -- I did not have the right to "dip into the treasury" of the PTO for my private use. The converse of that was also true. Though I was the president of the PTO, there were other responsibilities and functions I had as a citizen, parent and father that the PTO did not have the right to do. Just because I acted in some authorized functions as an individual, did not mean that that was the organization acting or that my approved behavior was authority for the organization's acting in the same way.

I am currently a member of a congregation of God's saved people. Every day I am to act as a Christian but I do not function every day in "together work" with my fellow members of the congregation. The congregation has a treasury which has resulted from the free will offering of all the members (1 Corinthians 16:1-2) but once individual Christians have purposed and laid aside that money for the Lord's work, no individual can lay claim on those resources for his own use (compare Acts 5:4). Neither can one sensibly claim that since he, as an individual Christian, can use his funds for charitable organizations such as the Cancer Society or Heart Fund, that that proves that the congregation can also send donations to those worthy charities.

When some brethren sought to justify sending a congregation's funds to benevolent institutions such as orphans' homes, homes for the aged, homes for unwed mothers, etc., they argued that "the church and the individual are the same," and "whatever the individual can do the church can do."

Not only will that not work in the structure of the meaning of language, it will not fit scripture. For instance, Jesus said that if a brother who has wronged you and has been approached individually and then in the presence of two three witnesses but still will not repent, then "tell it to the church" (Matthew 18:15-17). A clear distinction is made between what the individual has done in seeking to rectify the relationship and the church being involved. However, if the church and the Christian are the same, then the church had already been involved when the individual first went to the brother who wronged him.

I am always a Christian, related to my savior, and must behave myself in such a way so as to glorify God in every other relationship I have and in every circumstance in which I find myself. But I am not always acting in association with my fellow members of the congregation. For instance, I will occasionally give flowers to my wife and take her out to eat - God expects me to love her and cherish her (Ephesians 5:22-25). That is not the congregation sending flowers or feeding her - it has no authority to treat her as I treat her.

I spanked my children - God expects all parents to discipline their children (Ephesians 4:6) - that was not the congregation spanking my children. I also obey the laws of the land and, as a responsible citizen, I vote - God expects me to submit to the powers (Romans 13:1-3). But, that is not the congregation voting when I do it and that is not authority for the congregation using the facilities for voting headquarters or sending a contribution to a particular political candidate who might, more closely, represent Biblical values.

As a part of a community with its social association, I can support community projects dealing with social existence -improvements of appearances of the neighborhood, building houses for destitute, sending money to the Red Cross, donations to Cancer Society, etc. However, when I do those things it is not the congregation doing it.

When our children were smaller, we were involved in softball and little league - providing good entertainment and wholesome recreation for our children was a part of our responsibility in proper training. It is not uncommon for some churches of Christ to have their own baseball teams. It usually starts out as a team composed of members of one congregation who simply wear jerseys with the congregation's name. However, if the church can do whatever the individual can do, then there could be no justifiable objection to the congregation providing the jerseys, equipment, and even building its own baseball field. Perhaps they could argue that the baseball field would be justified because it would provide a more Christ-like environment in which to play or it would bring glory to the church and might cause someone to turn to Christ - far better that the name "Church of Christ" should be displayed than "Baptist" - right? But they could not invite some religious groups to play on their field - I've heard some of them cuss (as I have heard some supposed Christians cuss) and that would destroy the whole "Christian" environment.

If I could understand that what I frequently did as a parent did not give authority for using the PTO funds for the same thing, then brethren can surely understand the fallacy of the above argument. The argument that the church and the individual are the same and what the individual can do the church can also do won't wash. Such statements only cloud the real issue because the term "church" is used ambiguously. To affirm that the church and the individual are the same is to affirm, in this instance, that the congregation and the individual Christian are the same -- just taint so and anyone who will think reasonably knows it's not so.

--Jim R. Everett, Cedar Park, TX


[Ed. Note: We do not know the author of the following short article, but we commend it to our readers. We received it as an email from a friend and brother, Sam Harlin.]

I grew up in the forties and fifties with practical parents - a Mother, God love her, who washed aluminum foil after she cooked in it, then reused it. A Father who was happier getting old shoes fixed than buying new ones. Their marriage was good, their dreams focused. Their best friends lived barely a wave away. I can see them now, Dad in trousers, tee shirt and a hat and Mom in a house dress, lawn mower in one hand, dish towel in the other… It was the time for fixing things - a curtain rod, the kitchen radio, a screen door, the oven door, the hem in a dress. Things we keep. It was a way of life, and sometimes it made me crazy. All that re-fixing, reheating, renewing, I wanted just once to be wasteful. Waste mean affluence. Throwing things away meant there'd always be more.

But then my Mother died, and on that clear summer's night, in the warmth of the hospital room, I was struck with the pain of learning that sometimes there isn't any "more".

Sometimes, what we care about most gets all used up and goes away... never to return. So, while we have it, it's best we love it--and care for it--and fix it when it's broken--and heal it when it's sick.

This is true--for marriage--and old cars--and children with bad report cards--and dogs with bad hips--and aging parents--and grandparents. We keep them because they are worth it, because we are worth it. 

Some things we keep. Like a best friend that moved away--or a classmate we grew up with. There are just some things that make life important--people we know who are special. And so, we keep them close!

Let them know just how special they are...




April 20-25

Susquehanna (Marietta), PA

Bill Moseley

May 9-11

Exton, PA

Colly Caldwell

May 16-18

Bethlehem, PA

John Focht


Clarence R. Johnson
Phone: (717) 361-6212

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Marietta, Pennsylvania
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