6/5/19 – Pastor Brian’s Blog –
When we hear the word family, different thoughts come to our minds, often depending on our experiences with our family. I mentioned last week in my blog that Judy and I were in Columbia, South Carolina attending the High School graduation of our grandson Jesse. Heidi and David also came down from upstate NY, so counting their children, Jeremy & Candice’s children, as well as Heather & Josh’s children, Judy and I were able to spend time with 11 of our 18 grandchildren. How fun that was for Nana & Papa to spend a week with some of our family!?
Besides going to Jesse’s graduation, we did a lot of “family” stuff. Jesse owns his own landscaping business, so I got to spend a day with him working. His dad Josh owns his own piano tuning business, so I got to help him one morning move a piano. Our son Jeremy owns his own construction business, so mom and I got a tour of a recently renovated house.
Our granddaughter Olivia just got her driver’s permit, so I got to help her get some driving hours in. On one trip she drove me to the Christian camp that she will be serving at this summer and gave me my own personal tour. Then we got to play games with our “littles,” spent a day on the lake, a morning at the zoo, lunch at Chick-fil-A, two dozen hot donuts at Krispy Kreme, the girls went shopping, went to church with our kids and… the list goes on.
As I was thinking about my family this week, my thoughts went to the other family I belong to: God’s family. For my immediate and extended family, my ‘physical family,’ to work, there are certain principals that I have to practice. Just like there are certain principals in God’s family that I must apply for that family to work.
As it is in my family, it is in God’s family: we don’t always see eye to eye, we don’t always respond correctly or always say the right things. So in order to function, we must be willing to forgive… Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. Colossians 3:13-14
It helps me to remember that I will never be asked to forgive someone more than God has already forgiven me 1000 times over. Forgiveness must be immediate, whether or not the person asks for it. Trust can be rebuilt over time, but forgiveness needs to be instant.
Although we live far away from our 5 children and 18 grandchildren, we work at staying connected. Some of us are meeting at Word of Life this summer for family camp. Some of our children are coming to New Hampshire for Christmas. This past week Olivia downloaded “Marco Polo” onto my phone so we can do video chats. Just yesterday I was involved in a video chat with Olivia, her mom, and Judy. We are working at staying connected.
God’s family is no different. God has created life to be shared and not to be lived in isolation. Yet life with my family and life for the Christian is so much more than just hanging out together at a cookout, or having coffee together. Doing life together as family is even much more than going to church together. Living out the model of a Christian family isn’t just being with each other; it is building up each other. Paul wrote it like this… So then, let us aim for harmony in the church and try to build each other up. Romans 14:19
Both of my families require much more than superficial, surface-level chit chat. It needs to be genuine, face to face, heart to heart, totally transparent sharing. It only happens as we take seriously God’s commands for His family and get honest about what is happening in our lives. It is only as we become honest, do we become the family that God intended for us to be.
If we were to be honest, many of us think that intimacy happens in secret, yet God says that it happens in the light. Many of us resist transparency, we try and hide our hurts, our fears and our flaws. Yet God said that family intimacy only happens in the light… But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:7
From God’s perspective, a family does not act independently of each other, we are to be dependent on one another… So that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 1 Corinthians 12:25-27
If you have become too busy to be actively involved in the lives of your physical family, then you have allowed yourself to become too busy. It is no different for your spiritual family! If you are too busy to attend church, to be plugged into your church family, then from God’s point of view you have become too busy.
It becomes very difficult to understand what our family needs (and forget about meeting those needs), if we are disconnected from the family… Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers. Galatians 6:10
God is all about family. Although we are not responsible for everyone in God’s family, we are responsible to them. God expects us to do good to everyone, but especially to our family.
When our family is functioning as God intended for it to function, people see it, and it just might be the thing that will bring them into a family relationship with us. Look at the results of a church operating as God intended… All the believers devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, and to fellowship, and to sharing in meals (including the Lord’s Supper), and to prayer. A deep sense of awe came over them all, and the apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders. And all the believers met together in one place and shared everything they had. They sold their property and possessions and shared the money with those in need. They worshiped together the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity, all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47
My children and grandchildren are far from perfect, because their mom, dad, nana, and papa are far from perfect. But when we are operating as God intended for us to operate, there is no better place to be. And it is the same for the church: when each family member is operating like God intends for us to operate, it is a great place to be. So much so that even the unsaved want to be part of it!