Summary: God has love for his Dysfunctional Family. God shows his love for us by dying for this family and restoring us and reconciling us to Him.
Dysfunctional Families. There are so many different ideas, emotions, memories, that come to mind when we hear these words. People tell me about growing up in homes where they knew they would move away as soon as they had an opportunity. Other people are living in dysfunctional family settings right now, and many of these people maybe don’t realize it yet. Sometimes it takes an outsider. How many of you didn’t realize that your family wasn’t as normal as you thought until you got married and introduced someone new to it? I definitely fall into that group, Anne would ask simple questions (why does your family do that?) that I had a hard time answering.
At any rate, none of us grew up in a family that functioned perfectly. None of live in families where everything is perfect now. Someone told me about a friend they had that found out as an adult that they had a sibling they never knew about. They get together on occasion now, but this person told me that after 3 days or so, they really start to annoy one another. I said, “I guess they really are related!”
Today we are going to go on a journey through 3 different dysfunctional family relationships. My prayer for us is that we grow in appreciation of how God takes us, sinners as we are, and through his grace restores us and reconnects us to his family. That no matter how God finds us, or in whatever family struggle we find ourselves, that we would know we are a valued part of God’s family.
The first relationship that we are going to look at comes to us in the reading from the prophet Jeremiah. I need you to be honest with me. How many of you read this passage and thought to yourself, “what in the world is this all about?” If you did, I commend you for being observant and thoughtful, because these verses don’t make a whole lot of sense by themselves. What’s going on here is that Jeremiah is depressed because he has just learned that a group of people wants to kill him. To make matters worse, this group of people is from his hometown of Anathoth.
We read in Jeremiah 11:12 that God let Jeremiah know that, “the men of Anathoth… are seeking your life and saying, ‘Do not prophecy in the name of the Lord or you will die by our hands.’” So this is horrible, but it gets much worse. Not only are the people from Jeremiah’s hometown plotting to kill him, listen to Jeremiah 12:6, “Your BROTHERS, your OWN FAMILY – even they have betrayed you; they have raised a loud cry against you.” His own flesh and blood, his own family, his own brothers have been calling for his death. I’ve had fights with my brothers, but it usually ended up in wrestling match, not a death wish.
So what we have is a terrible situation for Jeremiah. First off he is feeling betrayed: “The LORD made it known to me and I knew; then you showed me their deeds. But I was like a gentle lamb led to the slaughter. I did not know it was against me they devised schemes, saying, “Let us destroy the tree with its fruit, let us cut him off from the land of the living, that his name be remembered no more.” He says, I felt like the gentle lamb, the family pet that played with the kids and slept in their rooms, suddenly being taken to be butchered! If you’ve ever been betrayed, maybe you can relate.
But the worst thing of all is that Jeremiah is now in the unenviable position of having to call down judgment from God on his own family. How hard it must have been to speak these words: “But, O LORD of hosts, who judges righteously, who tests the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause.” Jeremiah has committed his cause to God; he has thrown in with God, and now asks for vengeance upon the enemies of God and His word, no matter who they might be. It’s an unimaginable and heartbreaking situation for Jeremiah. No wonder he is lamenting.
But this leads us to understand something about the second dysfunctional relationship we are going to talk about this morning. You see, in Jeremiah 11 and 12, the prophet speaks openly and plainly about how he has been betrayed, and how much this hurts. But Jeremiah isn’t the only one who has suffered heartbreak on account of his family. Wrapped all around Jeremiah’s tears and mourning is the sadness, and pain, and mourning of God. God who has also been betrayed by the family he loves, by his own people, his own children.