12 May 2009

The Family Should Be Valued... For Pointing

The family is more than a structural unit ordained by God from the foundation of creation. It is a metaphor created to express something breathtaking (Romans 8:15-16, Ephesians 5:32). So there are things (authority within the home, sexual intimacy between a husband and wife, nurture, discipline of children, Deut. 6  discipleship, etc) that must remain in the family and no other sphere has the right to interfere with it (lest the metaphor be destroyed). The church, the state, or any other entity should not co-opt these rights and God-given responsibilities. 

Marriage and family are metaphors created by God and God's metaphors are to be experienced in fullness (holiness) and the great scope of authentic emotions that result from following his commands (love, joy, comfort, etc) and disobeying his commands (jealousy, rebellion, anger, disappointment, etc). This is not a plastic metaphor. It is living and breathing and ... POINTING.

But to what?
Earthly families point to the family of God that will remain in perfect harmony for eternity under one head. That is what I mean when I say the church - God's chosen and beloved family. She will exist for eternity and Shelli, Ryene, Hudson, Maclean and Whitney (Lord willing) will be in that family with me. We will all have one head and it won't be me or some super-apostle it will be Christ.

Passages that guide my thinking here:
Jesus and his brothers have one source - a Father (for who and by whom all things exist) who brings them to glory
For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers, (Hebrews 2.10-11)

There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4.4-6)

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, (Ephesians 3.14-15)
God's eternal purpose in Christ was that the Church exist to express the manifold wisdom of God
so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was according to the eternal purpose that he has realized in Christ Jesus our Lord, (Ephesians 3.10-11)
We are growing into one head
until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4.13-16)
Jesus came to bring a sword to families... (because if they are divided in Christ, they will be divided in eternity and not in the heavenly family together)
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10.34-39)
What hope for family for the fatherless? or family-less?
The family of God provides hope for the orphan, the widow, the alien, the stranger - they can have family and, not only that, the perfect family that the earthly family is pointing to!
Father of the fatherless and protector of widows is God in his holy habitation. God settles the solitary in a home; he leads out the prisoners to prosperity, but the rebellious dwell in a parched land. (Psalms 68.5-6)
Paul/Jesus do not address - "the families of God that meet in the church at ..., etc." 
(Romans 1.7, 1 Corinthians 1.2-3, 2 Corinthians 1.1-2, Ephesians 1.1-2, Philippians 1.1-2, Colossians 1.1-2, 1 Thessalonians 1.1, 2 Thessalonians 1.1-2 and Revelation 2.1)

What is more important? The pointer or...?
Churches can cross a boundary and ask too much of families and involve themselves in matters that are not their jurisdiction. This defames Christ and wrecks the metaphor God created in the family. But many, for the sake of family, isolate themselves from vulnerable, mission-oriented, Christ-centered, God-designed community with those who will be their eternal family and that also defames Christ (John 13:35). He destroyed the walls dividing humanity (Ephesians 2:14) and will be glorified for making out of many tribes, tongues and nations one family to forever sing His praises. Families are glorious and should be defended because they point to this end not because they themselves are the end.
And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation, and you have made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5.9-10)

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7.9-10)
to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Ephesians 3.21)

Additional Resources
The Devil Votes Christian Values: Why We’re Tempted to be Glorified Satanists Rather than Crucified Followers -an outstanding message by Russell Moore about Satan's desire to broker with us to pursue 2nd things over the things of first importance (1 Cor. 15:3-4) HT: Justin Taylor


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