One of the most intense blessings, source of relational pain, great joys, deep sorrows, and everything in between is found in our families. Today you hear much about family values, alternative families, nuclear families, many ways of being a family, God's blueprint for families etc.
Family is a big deal - I want to put forth a question that all of us should ask more often. Why? Why is family a big deal. Any answer will be like a multifaceted geme stone. A jewel that can be seen and enjoyed from several angles. I want to offer a few reasons why family is, and will always be a big deal
- Family is where we are born and nurtured. Much can be said about the importance of our formative years. The development of our souls and bodies takes place in a context. We grow memories, behavioral patterns, mental capacities, social skills, in the incubator which is our youth. The family environment can be a great blessing or a great burden on our growth. We pick up wounds, scars, and all sorts of junk in our family. We never will "get it right" in our families - but can they be a place of grace, blessing, forgiveness, understanding, and healthy growth. By the goodness of God, this can be true. Family is a big deal because the family grows people - for good or for ill.
- Families are where we learn to love and forgive. When you have multiple sinners growing up under a roof, toes will be stepped on and people misunderstood. Well, to be honest, sometimes we just crush each other. Family is a place where we learn to say, I forgive you. A place where we learn to live for someone else. Where God can begin to slay selfishness in the soul teaching us to give our lives in service. Family is where we can learn to the truth of the great secrets of the Kingdom of God - that to be first is to be last and to be last is first. We learn the joy of really seeing and savoring what God desires us to know - it is better to give than to receive.
- Families are where we learn to use our gifts. Every can contribute something to the mission of a family. When fathers and mothers see their roles as facilitating a mission under the leadership of Christ, kids as well as the grown folks, can begin to see how their uniqueness, passions, and giftings contribute to a whole. Parents, we need to high five and chest bump our kids as they serve in their unique design. They need to have coaches that both affirm, instruct and offer discipline. Why? Our families can count for something in the world if we see them as missional formations sent into the world, with the church, to transform lives and culture to the glory of God.
- Finally, and most importantly, the reason family exists at all is so that we might see and savor God himself. Think about it. We reproduce sexually, but there are other ways to reproduce. Think about it. Other animals come right out into the world and get right into life...people are dependent and need each other for quite a long time. It seems that God desired human beings to have fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers. Why? To help us understand good theology.
- First - God is our Father, the unique Savior of humanity is a Son, and these relate in intimate communion and fellowship with the Spirit within the eternal Trinity. A loving, self giving community of persons is our God - our families have a great model to follow. The Father loves the Son, the Son submits, without being inferior to the Father. The Spirit is sent forth into the world by Father and Son (no debate please) to bring glory to the Son who makes the Father known. Selfless service, roles, and beauty...a great model.
- Second - the image of God is seen in the world through "male and female" - God the Father is not a man, he is a spiritual being that is reflected in the feminine and the masculine. So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. Genesis 1:27. Why are there males and females, boys and girls, men and women. To reflect the image of God. Why is God called Father and not Mother - because there is something about "Father" that he wants the men to understand...plus, he reveals himself to us as such. Much more needs to be written here.
- Third- The church uses the analogies of family to describe relationships within the people of God. Who are we as Christians? We are brothers and sisters in Christ. We understand the church as a family called out of the world to the Triune God.
- Fourth- the nature of teaching, discipleship and Christian care for others uses the language of family. Paul uses this language extensively in his first letter to the Thessalonians.
For all the family guys our there - don't let the constant responsibilities weigh on you as undesired burdens. Rather, see the loads you carry as a beautiful expression of the person of God, in and through your little flock, loving them and nurturing them along the road.
To all the young dudes out there who bear the calling of pastor. Let us look to Paul's family example as we love the lost, care for the sheep, and lead them in mission.
1 Thessalonians 2:1-12 (ESV)
1For you yourselves know, brothers, that our coming to you was not in vain. 2But though we had already suffered and been shamefully treated at Philippi, as you know, we had boldness in our God to declare to you the gospel of God in the midst of much conflict. 3For our appeal does not spring from error or impurity or any attempt to deceive, 4but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not to please man, but to please God who tests our hearts. 5For we never came with words of flattery, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness. 6Nor did we seek glory from people, whether from you or from others, though we could have made demands as apostles of Christ. 7But we were gentle among you, like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 8So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.
9For you remember, brothers, our labor and toil: we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, while we proclaimed to you the gospel of God. 10You are witnesses, and God also, how holy and righteous and blameless was our conduct toward you believers. 11For you know how, like a father with his children, 12we exhorted each one of you and encouraged you and charged you to walk in a manner worthy of God, who calls you into his own kingdom and glory.
God Bless the families, the marriages, the husbands, the Dads, the wives, the Moms, and the kids...there is something good going on amidst all the drama we know as family.