Joseph awoke from another dream.  He shared it with Mary, “I thought an angel was telling me to live in Nazareth.”
Mary laughed at him.  “Everyone knows that dreams are just your brain sorting out stuff from the day.  There’s no way that dream is from God!  Why would the Messiah live in an obscure town where Gentiles mix with Jews?”
“My thoughts exactly!” replied Joseph, “Jerusalem or David’s City are the only places worthy of His name.”
So they finally settled in a house in Jerusalem which had a great view of the temple.
Not the Bible: The Ungospel of Matthew 2:19-23

In the previous post on this passage we talked about how Mary and Joseph didn’t burn their bridges and start afresh in a new place where they wouldn’t be social outcasts.
In this post we look at the fact that they returned with God’s son to live in an obscure and despised town.

Do you recall Nathanael’s reaction when he was told by Philip about Jesus of Nazareth?

“Nazareth!  Can anything good come from there?” (Jn 1:46)

One of the lies we can believe is that by following Jesus will automatically result in a nicer life.

I always worry when people tell me that God has asked them to move to live in a bigger house or nicer neighbourhood or to take a job which pays more.  Why?  Because I hear so few Christians telling me that God has asked them to move to a smaller house and give away the money from their sale, or to move to a worse neighbourhood to bring God’s light into a dark place or to take a lower paid job to reach those who don’t have any Christians in their workplace or to refuse a promotion as it would compromise their priorities.

And so it worries me that we as those who follow Christ seem to have lives that don’t correspond to his.  He didn’t have anywhere to lay his head yet we have big houses, cars, TVs and more stuff than we need.

Now don’t get me wrong – I totally believe that God provides for our needs (and have experienced that when I took an unpaid sabbatical year to attend Bible college).  I also believe that God rewards those who steward the resources and gifts that we use for his glory.  However I don’t believe that the rewards we receive are always confined to this present age nor are always monetary in nature.

As I say to my children when they are arguing over something:

“We can’t take that to heaven, but we can take people.  People are more important.”

I confess that I had to learn this the hard way: I once took a promotion because I believed I deserved it – as I was being undervalued by my old job.  But the stress and the hours worked on the new job nearly ended up destroying my marriage.

Since then I have refused to swap for a number of other jobs that would nearly double my salary because they would require me to sacrifice my family for the job.  How can that be Kingdom?  I want to invest my time into my children so that they go further than me in the Kingdom.  That they would stand on my shoulders, that my ceiling would become their floor.

Similarly, even though my salary has increased over time we have chosen to keep our lifestyle at the same level so that we can bless others and invest in the Kingdom rather than our comfort.  It’s one reason why I charge so little for the books I write.  I want to be the good and faithful servant that He commends.

Father, forgive me that I always assume that following you means bigger and better in a worldly sense.  Open my eyes to see the true bigger and better of the Kingdom.  Holy Spirit, I give you permission to search my heart and let me know if any part of me is seeking after my own comfort.  Open my eyes to any wounds that lead me to seek physical comfort and reward, so that I can bring these wounds to the true Physician.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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