Summary: While I do not see much of this directed at the church, too many parents seem to confuse money with love.
It seems that the church and the family in America mirror each other. We can probably agree that the church and the family should be the places where one finds love. Yet, neither seems to be a very safe place to find love today. Families break apart and church people gossip. Little sense of blessing exists, but people demand to have their needs met. Rare is the family or the church that disciplines its members, yet with discipline comes the safety we crave.
Thinking through these issues reminds me of chicken and egg arguments. Is the dysfunctional family killing the church or does church impotence kill families? If you took my theology class this spring, you know that the answer is (always) both! A circular relationship exists where each intensifies the other’s problems, and that is good news. I say good news because the opposing truth also holds: church and family can solve each other’s problems.
What exactly are the problems to which I refer? Four seem most clear right now, and I will discuss each one on Sundays this month. I call the series: How to Avoid Murdering Your Family. I chose that title because I notice that we have not yet learned to love each other. Where love is not, hate is, and Jesus said that to hate someone is just the same as killing her. I look at our culture and I see the demons of hate making progress and winning battles. I want to name the demons and kill them before they kill more of us.
Before I get to naming demons, I want to list a few foundational ideas. First, my argument rests in the idea that love is the answer to the problems. Second, the greatest example of love is that Jesus Christ gave his life to pay for your and my sins. Third, the thirteenth chapter of Paul’s letter to the church at Corinth offers the most complete description of love in the world, and from it I find solutions to our problems. Fourth, when I use the term family I do so in agreement with Jesus and the biblical authors who refer to churches as families. You see it is by divine design that churches and families remain linked.
I will address four problems that involve relationships between love and support, gossip, conformity, and discipline respectively. First, families and churches kill each other when they substitute money for love. Money is very important, but to love someone includes more than just money.
Second, persons who belong to families today seem to feel great freedom to talk badly about each other. Gossip kills the one it attacks. I see gossip increasingly acceptable, and I see it murdering families.
Third, I do not see a lot of blessing flowing from parents to children or from churches to their children. What I see is a lot of attempted cloning. Such attempts are not only foolish, they are lethal. Lord willing, we will act to correct this insidious practice on Father’s Day.
Fourth, discipline is in decline in families and virtually nonexistent in churches. Great sadness results from the failure of families and churches to lovingly discipline their members, for that is the only way we will ever find safety in each other’s presence.
Give More than Money
This week we examine the relationship between support and love. Monday, I took my wife to see Pearl Harbor. I could have given her some money and sent her to the island, but we decided that seeing the movie together would suffice. I thought it was a good sappy chick flick with some cool explosions for the guys. What struck me about the plot was how willing the characters were to die for each other.
Before the fighting started at Pearl Harbor, there was a war in Europe. Our Congress sent the English a lot of money to buy bullets, but money was not enough. The English needed men to fight, so they recruited American pilots to fly British planes in combat against the Germans.
The Bible teaches us that the church fights a war against evil. The church needs tithes to pay for the weapons of our warfare, but money is not enough. We also need attenders and workers. In fact, Jesus never told us to pray specifically for money, but he did tell us to pray for workers.
If we read the statistics, we know that families need more than money today. Families need income to pay for food, shelter, education, Disneyland vacations, cable television, and new computer games, right? Still, they seem to be in disarray despite the highest family income ever in our history. Families need a parent at home when the kids get out of school and another one at home to help with schoolwork in the evening. They need someone to attend all those ballgames and someone to teach respect for God and his word.