Over the next several weeks at First Christian Church where I preach we will be taking a look at how we as disciples of Jesus Christ can "reFRAME the modern family" and how we can be a family and still a mess! I hope that you will take a moment and join us. So here's my dilemma, I think that for a long time I thought as a kid that our family had to be perfect and the messy stuff at home couldn't be talked about or even known by other people (even though most people had a clue and even knew most of that stuff anyway). I thought that if our family was mess it was only a mess at home, because we had to be perfect in public! I'm not sure that the church is much different today.
"...[we are now in a place that] it's all about discipleship and transformation into Christlikeness. However, the church has been through a period of history that has been about 'keeping people out of the bad place' [making sure they are good]..." -- Dallas Willard
I know for me that church was a place you went to on special holidays before going to grandmas to eat. Church for me as kid really meant very little - matter fact Jesus didn't mean much either. I didn't really know anybody from church (except those really weird ones). We didn't do things with people from church nor did we really talk about church things. I'm not sure why? But maybe it had something to do with my family's history. My parents had been divorced and believe you me - they knew it from the crowd. To be honest I didn't really understand why church people disliked us so much - I didn't think we were that bad of a family. People wanted me to come to church, they would invite me - but really as a young child I didn't see any investment into my family from the church.
What I thought was if you were a person who didn't act right, live right, talk right, or think right...then church really wasn't for you. So you either stay away or when you go you pretend for an hour or so... at least this was my perception as a became a teenager/young adult. (I'm not saying that this was how everyone lived their life, but that was for sure something that was present)... believe me; I've been scolded enough as a minister to know that this thought is present. At this point... church was a distant memory and life was void of anything Jesus...
What's my point?
In making Himself known to us He [God] stays by the familiar pattern of personality. He communicates with us through the avenues of our minds, our wills and our emotions.” -- AW Tozer
My point is that if we are going to reFRAME the modern family - we must understand that life is messy and people are really trying to get it right, live better and do the best for themselves. In order to reFRAME the modern family, we might want to look at how we look at people. Just this past week I've prayed for a single dad who is struggling, a family who is raising their grandkids, a wife who is on the verge of loosing her husband to a crazy sickness, a couple who is celebrating 50 years together, a man who doesn't know how to move past the grief of loosing his wife, a man who is battling cancer, one who is struggling with pornography, a young lady that is dealing with life decisions that any 13 shouldn't have to deal with, a church family who is tired of hiding and that's just this week...
Our world is broken and yet we still think we have time to "play nice"... what are we worried about? What are we concerned about? Are we willing to invite our neighbors over for dinner and just get to know them? Are we willing to take a chance for someone who is lost and broken? Are we willing to look deep into our hearts and see what God is asking us to do... Maybe there's a bigger question... DO I KNOW JESUS?
I know that as a child, I've painted a pretty dim picture of the church culture that I found myself in... my intent is not to blame the church nor is it my intent to speak against the bride of Christ, but at times we need to see things from a different point of view.. I know that I'm challenged every day to check myself. The church is the greatest thing we have for a broken world... the church is the most powerful tool known to man to defeat evil... the church was want gave me a chance to see Jesus for the first time... I just don't want the church (that is the people gathered in Jesus name - that is the church you know)... I don't want us to get stuck... our world is changing and our kids and families are in the midst of a battle like never before... let's make sure we are the light into the world -- Jesus was seen as something foolish to his day... he was seen as reckless... are we too safe?
IT IS WELL!
The first thing that I must reFRAME is knowing my Jesus! It truly is well with my soul and I know that Jesus loved me before I even really knew who He was. In the darkest parts of my life - Jesus has and is always there. I can't hide anything from him and I shouldn't try. But there are times when I've put on my "mask" and played the part - all while I was falling apart on the inside. Do I really believe that it is well!
I know that not everyone is in this same place as me. I know that as I get older it seems to get easier, but yet it remains a journey of being real and authentic - trying to reach those far from God. Jesus said this in Matthew 11:28-30...Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.
As we reFRAME what it means to be a family in Christ both personally and as a church - I pray that we will remember that my sins have been forgiven, all my hope is in Jesus, my yesterday is gone and all I have is moving forward with Him... I pray that we choose to look at people with love and compassion. I pray that the heavy shackles of "living right" can be replaced with "living more like Jesus". I'm thankful that there were some who didn't see my darkness and sin; instead saw that I was a broken, messed up 21 year old and picked me up and gave me a second chance.
THE MODERN FAMILY
Our modern families deal with so much and many of them feel unprepared and unequipped. Let's pray that over the next several weeks - you and I - can reach out and take a broken world by the hand and lead it toward a peaceful stream. Jesus has been the only friend that gives me perfect peace, perfect strength, perfect love, perfect courage and perfect faith. In the midst of the modern family world - lets not place unneeded burdens on those seeking rest in Jesus. The church may very well be the only institution that has been given the challenge of sharing the good news of Jesus from broken vessels...He is my everything!
1) Connect with another family/human being
2) Listen for the warning signs
3) Take time and reflect daily on your life in Christ
4) Spend time with God, with your loved ones, and spend time with YOU!
Making Disciples is really a side effect - some people can be pushed, some need pulled and some just need you to live life with them. People will follow what they see - are they seeing Jesus today!
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