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Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Welcome to the Family

              While back in Virginia last week I had the opportunity to visit with a pastor friend who is the pastor to my brother and his family. Pastor John Bradford is the senior pastor of Christ the King Lutheran Church in Great Falls, Virginia. I happened to read the current church newsletter and was intrigued by the title of his article: “We are Family!”

This idea of family got me to thinking. What triggered this was his comment that said, “Family is important! But we all have to understand that the picture of the family in the Bible is quite different from the picture that many people draw of the ‘biblically sanctioned, ideal family.’ Truth be told, there is no ‘ideal family’ in the Bible. Every family in the Bible is deeply and tragically flawed.”

Hmmmm. There is no “ideal family” in the Bible! My wheels started turning with that comment. I had to agree with Pastor John. There do not appear to be any sound, wholesome families portrayed in the Scriptures. Now, the question that comes to my mind is ‘Why aren’t there?” As I thought about it, I had to conclude that families in the Bible, beginning with the sons of Adam & Eve, are really no different than our own struggle with sound and intact families today. The idea of families in the Bible existing in some sort of Pollyannish euphoric existence where troubles are non-existent is simply unrealistic.

There is often this misconception among the unchurched that Christians are somehow immune from life’s normal troubles. Nothing could be further from the truth. A short walk through some of the main characters in the Bible will quickly reveal the problem of sin being ever present in all families. As I mentioned already, Adam and Eve’s son Cain, allowed his own anger and resentment to bring him to the point where he killed his brother Abel. Abraham lied about his relationship to his stunningly beautiful wife, Sarah, because he was afraid for his life. He did this twice! What respect could she have for him after that? Then guess what happened? Their son, Isaac, did the same thing with his wife Rebekah! Jacob (Israel) connived with his mother, Rebekah, to obtain the blessing intended for the first-born son. This caused a rift between him and his brother Esau.

Joseph’s brothers hated his position as the favorite son to their father Jacob. So they sold him to slave-traders, and then lied to their father that Joseph had been killed by wild animals. Moses had troubles with his siblings, Aaron and Miriam, after the miraculous delivery of the Israelites by God from Egypt. They didn’t like that Moses had married a Cushite woman. God’s punishment was visited on Aaron and Miriam for their disrespect toward God’s servant, Moses.

On and on it goes throughout the pages of the Bible. King David lost his family and his kingdom because of his adulterous relationship with Bathsheba. And even the family of Jesus was not exempt from conflict. Because Mary gave birth to a son before she was legally married to Joseph the community they lived in assumed she had been fooling around before actually entering into the marriage covenant with her husband. Also during his ministry Jesus’ brothers were derisive of his activities.

So all of these fractured, dysfunctional families are no different than those we see today. Is there an ideal family structure then? Yes!

As in anything, there are certain signs to watch for when evaluating the value of anything. Jesus gives us some keys to the family which may be a bit different than what you might be thinking. In Mark 3:35 he says, “Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” Stay with me now. Jesus is saying that your biological family, the one you are connected to through your DNA, may be a disaster. Or it may no longer exist for you. Perhaps you were adopted and couldn’t find your family if you wanted to. Jesus says if you are willing to trust your life to him, thoroughly being committed to following him by doing God’s will, then you have a ready-made family. You have a new family made up of others who have chosen to accept Jesus as their Savior. You all are from the same blood, the same DNA – the blood of Jesus! And ultimately Jesus makes us into his perfect family.

Because of Jesus we know we have an eternal family. Would you like that kind of family? Have you accepted Jesus as your Savior? If not, do it now. And welcome to the family!

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