Summary: In every family relationship we have "givens’ and "choices". Here are 3 important life-lessons we can learn from the family.
FAMILY: THE GIVENS AND THE CHOICES
1. If you were to ask me the question how I am feeling today, I would have to respond that I am feeling totally “familied out” – at least for the immediate future. I need a vacation from family!
2. Now that may seem like a harsh and hard comment coming from your pastor – especially following a truly delightful wedding of my oldest daughter last Saturday morning - but that is an honest acknowledgment that I have as much a frail humanity in me as each and every one of you.
3. It’s tough adjusting from living in a condo where it is just you and your spouse to consider to having to spend at least a two full days with around twenty five previous strangers and now suddenly new family members from Bothel, Puyallup, Spokane, Pokatello Idaho, Salt Lake City Utah, and Lander Wyoming, plus two cats and a dog crammed into one house with just two bathrooms and no space to get away and just be on your own for a few minutes.
4. Once the huge crowd had left and we were left with just the three grandkids (ages 7, 8, and 9) to look after for a week, what I had vainly imagined would be a nice break turned into a 16 hour a day, non-stop activity, noise and crisis management exercise!
5. It is no wonder that God gave the command in Genesis that “For this reason a man shall LEAVE his father and mother and be joined to his wife…” That requirement was partially to protect the sanity of the grandparents! Short visits are one thing, but having to be the cook, the activities director, the referee, the janitor, the sound and stage manager, the ER doctor, the customer service and complaints department, the comforter and the judge all rolled into one for an entire week is a task I am not ready to volunteer for again in quite a while.
6. Does anyone out there understand what I am talking about?
7. Having said that, let me make it very clear that I dearly love my family – the one I was born into, the one that has come out of Anne’s and my marriage, and those that have been joined to us now through the marriages of our children. We are an incredibly rich and mixed bag of characters and personalities and skills and talents and stories and heritage. We have many wonderful strengths and an equal share of weaknesses.
8. There are many points and perspectives we can examine on the topic of families – but I want us to just briefly touch on three this morning:
A. THE FAMILY WAS GOD’S IDEA
B. THE FAMILY IS YOUR TRAINING GROUND FOR CHURCH MINISTRY
C. THE FAMILY IS THE BEST TOOL FOR EVANGELISM
A. THE FAMILY WAS GOD’S IDEA
1. That’s a given. It was not some human sociological invention that evolved over time.
2. In the Scripture we read from Ephesians 3:14, 15 Paul writes: “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.” God is the author and creator of the family.
3. It was God who in the beginning saw that it was not good for the man to be alone and so provided a helper, a woman, to be at his side. It was God who told them to be fruitful and multiply.
4. It was God who stated that “A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh – and what God has joined together, no one shall separate.” Divorce was not planned to be on the agenda. There’s another given.
5. And within that committed union children were to be produced and raised and nurtured in safety and security. The family was never to be a hazardous or dangerous place for any child. Another given.
6. It was God, who in Psalm 68 that we read as our Call to Worship, is described as “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, who sets the lonely in families”.
7. The family is God’s idea and was designed to be a distinct and unique unit of committed relationships – father and mother, brothers and sisters, grandparents, uncles, aunts, and cousins.
8. And within that family unit the members would learn to take care of one another, share with one another, be accountable to and for one another – remember when God asked Cain where his brother Abel was, Cain replied “I don’t know. Am I my brother’s keeper?” Though it is not stated, God’s answer to that question would have been a clear-cut YES! That is another given – it is not a choice.