Summary: In this sermon, we explore how family can become an idol and how we can keep this from happening.

A. One day a Sunday School teacher was trying to drive home the importance of family life.

1. She illustrated her point by referring to the commandment “honor your mother and father.”

2. Then she added, “Now that we know God’s command for how we are to treat our parents, can any of you tell me a commandment that deals with how we are to treat brothers and sisters?”

3. There was a long pause and then one boy’s face lit up as he said, “How about ‘You shall not kill!’ ”

B. Today, I want to talk about how the first of the ten commandments also applies to families.

1. The first of the ten commandments is: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:2-3)

2. In our series on counterfeit gods, we have been learning how other things or other people can become counterfeit gods by taking the place in our lives that belongs only to God the Father.

3. Family is one of the best gifts that God created for us, and yet it is one of the gifts that can easily become an idol.

4. Let’s spend some time exploring how that can happen and how to keep it from happening.

C. Let’s start with a story from C. S. Lewis’ book called The Great Divorce.

1. In the allegory of this book, Lewis examines why people choose for or against giving their lives in full commitment to God.

a. Lewis shows that when we make that choice, what we are doing is standing at the very gate of heaven and choosing between the eternal glory of God and the empty illusions of earth – it is what he calls “the great divorce” between heaven and earth.

2. In the allegory, Lewis puts us on a bus with a group of fellow ghosts who have finished their earthly lives.

a. They are on their way to be dropped off at a kind of way station in which they will make their decisions about eternity.

b. We know that salvation doesn’t work this way, but it helps illustrate some important truths.

3. For each newcomer who arrives at the way station, there is a bright, shining figure who steps out of heaven to receive his or her old friend, and to encourage them to make the full journey to heaven and the presence of God.

a. These bright, shining figures are not angels, but are acquaintances from life who have been saved and are in heaven.

4. Pam is a woman who has arrived at the way station and is disappointed to see that the person from her past who meets her from heaven is her younger brother, Reginald.

a. She had hoped that the person who would meet her would be her departed son Michael, to whom she had devoted her life.

5. Reginald explains to Pam that she isn’t ready to see her son yet.

a. He explains that she must first be eager to see God himself, and then all the other wonderful blessings of heaven will be available to her.

b. She must understand that God isn’t simply a way to get to heaven; rather, heaven is a way to get to God, and Pam must approach it that way.

c. Reginald says, “I’m afraid the first step is a hard one. But after that, you’ll go on like a house on fire…when you learn to want someone else besides Michael.”

6. Pam doesn’t know what her younger brother is talking about.

a. She says, “Well, never mind. I’ll do whatever’s necessary…The sooner I begin it, the sooner they’ll let me see my boy.”

b. Reginald says that it can’t begin with that kind of attitude.

c. He says, “You’re treating God only as a means to Michael.”

d. She must learn to want God for his own sake.

e. God can’t be second in her affections; he can’t even be tied for first.

7. Reginald continues with the explanation, “You exist as Michael’s mother only because you first exist as God’s creature. That relation is older and closer.”

a. He goes on to explain to Pam that “human beings can’t make one another really happy for long…you can’t love a fellow creature fully till you love God.”

8. It becomes clear that Pam’s love for her son was something of an obsession in life.

a. After her son died, she kept his room just as he left it for ten years.

b. Pam neglected her other children, her husband, and her parents, to the pain and disappointment of them all.

c. Everyone and everything was sacrificed on the altar of her adoration of her lost son.

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