Summary: The relationship between older and younger church members
The Church as The Family of God
1 Timothy 1:1-2; 3:14-15; 5:1-2
Today, we begin a series of sermons that will focus on the greatest of all institutions. No I am not referring the national government or the United Methodist Church. I am speaking of the family. May 7-13 is National Family Week and May is family month here at FUMC.
So important is the family that the Bible teaches that we are to live within the church as we would within our homes. In other words, the church is a family: with God as our parent and Jesus as our older brother. We are brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, sons and daughters to one another.
Families are made up of all kinds of people. We all have our black sheep in the family along with our own Uncle Fester and Cousin It and perhaps a few Bart Simpson’s thrown in for good measure. Some are older, some are younger. I can recall family reunions in which I was among the youngest present but now, I am a par of the older generation.
As we look across our congregation, we see that the same is true about our church. Our church is made up of all sorts of people, some are younger and others are older. Last Sunday, we all were thrilled to see our graduates lead us in worship. It was a joy to see so many children involved in the Children’s time. The church is intergenerational and has been from the very beginning. This is our topic for today: the church as the family of God.
Some of the most beautiful words in the Bible are found in the letters of First and Second Timothy. This is due in part to the special relationship that existed between the writer, Paul and the recipient, Timothy.
Paul was an older man when he wrote these words. He had experienced many things in life and in particular as a Christian preacher. He had seen first hand what the power of Jesus could do in the lives of people. He had seen the church living at its best when it was focused on God, only to see how cruel it could be when they forgot God. Paul had proved himself time and time again to be a faithful servant of God.
Timothy on the other hand was a young man. He was a convert of Paul and began his work for the Lord at a very early age, perhaps as a teenager. Timothy was still rather green. He had a lot to learn. We would say he was a wet behind the ears. But Paul had said to him, “Let no one put you down because of your youth.” Paul even said to Timothy, “I love you like a son.” The relationship between Paul the fatherly mentor and Timothy the young novice is truly one of the most moving stories in the Bible.
Timothy received these letters from Paul while serving as the pastor at the church at Ephesus. In these letters Paul was trying to give Timothy some advise on how to be an effective pastor. Paul wanted Timothy to know that the secret to a live church for Jesus was a strong relationship between the generations, where everyone understood that the church is the family of God.
Paul speaks first about how younger members in the church are to treat its older members.
Paul is clear that we are to express love and affection for our older members. We are to treat older men as fathers and older woman as mothers. We may not agree with everything our parents do but they are nevertheless still our parents and we should hold them in high esteem.
Paul indicates we are to treat our elders with respect. If we were a basketball player and Michael Jordan walked into this room, we would have instant respect for him as a player. If we have a passion for golf; we would respect Arnold Palmer. If we aspire to be a singer we would have instant for Carrie Underwood. If we were an auto mechanic, we would respect Henry Ford. If we were a coach most of us would take our hat off if Vince Lombardi walked in. Why would we respect these people? Because they have been there, they have been were we are or where we want to be and made. This is why we should respect our elders. They have been were we are and some how made it through the trials and tribulations. The Bible teaches that we should love, honor and respect our elders.
Respect is something many of us have forgotten or may have never learned. Sadly we often do not show respect for the house of God or to God‘s pastors. If I had disrespected God‘s house or called my pastor by his first name, I would have, as the old saying goes, “Would have had a knot yanked in my tail in a hurry.” Perhaps this lack of respect is connected to our lack of respect to our parents and to those who are to parent us, our older members.