This is one of my favorite pictures ever. It was from last summer at Leadership Training in Colorado. I was helping Meghan up a hill, and then turned around to see this….Isaac & Savita sharing a moment. This sums up my DREAM for my children. Each different. Personalities. Gifts. Relationships. Each going to follow a different path and mission laid out by God. But along the way they will be tight. There will be a bond between them that will bend but never break. It will be strained but never snap. They will look out to the future together.
And when I read the NT…I see that same vision for the the church. Passages such as Romans 12:3-8 & I Corinthians 12 speak of this reality. Everyone who is “in Christ”. Whoever believes in Christ & finds their righteousness in Him alone. They are One body. One family. One household. All together we are the children of God….(John 1:12, Ephesians 1:5)
But is this what we experience? Is this what the world sees in us?
I talked to a student awhile ago about spiritual questions he had, and shared a bit about Christ. He stopped me at one point and said…”I don’t know man, I appreciate that you are talking to me about this stuff, but it seems like all you Christians do is fight and argue with one another. Maybe you should get your house in order”
I wanted to argue with him, but his comment hit home. Sometimes it is so sad to see the casual way Christians will dishonor other Christians…
- We will openly criticize, slander & gossip about our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
- We will let conflict be unresolved.
- We will let our speech dishonor & air our dirty laundry in public. (the internet = in public by the way)
- We will see other churches or ministries as the “competition”
Now there is nothing wrong with disagreement in a family. Nothing at all. It HAS to happen. And sometimes it is serious. But so often it turns to dishonor and disrespect…
Even worse, sometimes we will sell one another out TO TRY AND IMPRESS OUR CULTURE. We hear subtle (and not so subtle) messages like this in Christendom all the time.
“We’re not like them. We…..(are more relevant)….(are more traditional)….(are smarter)….(love the city more)….(love the campus more)…..(love justice more)….etc…”
“You’ve been waiting for a church like us!”
Yes, I confess, I have been guilty of at least 3 of those statements at different times. So sad.
I don’t know how God “feels” about all of that. But I do know that few things cause me more sorrow than seeing my kids disrespect or dishonor one another. When they sell each other out, or point the finger, or try to impress their friends at the expense of their siblings….my heart breaks because I know that this is not the way it should be.
We are family. And that is important. Just like Gene Hackman reminds us in Wyatt Earp. (Ok, he goes too far in that one, but if you replace “blood” with “Jesus” you get closer to the right idea)
The same is true with the Church. There is something SO MUCH BETTER FOR US.
So as I wrap up this little series, here’s a few thoughts on how we get our “house in order”…
REMEMBER YOUR FAMILY IS WAY BIGGER THAN YOU THINK.
It’s not just your biological family, or your small group, or your local church, or your “tribe” of churches….this call to honor is for ALL your brothers and sisters in Christ.
“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.”
– I Corinthians 12:12-13
There will be men and women from every NATION and TRIBE and PEOPLE and LANGUAGE worshipping Him for eternity! (Rev 7:9) We have to stop honoring a handful of our family members and decide to (as best we can) honor and respect them all.
HONOR YOUR FAMILY TO SHOW THE POWER OF THE GOSPEL
This is the GREAT MYSTERY OF THE GOSPEL! That God has taken Jews, Gentiles, slaves, free and made them all ONE IN CHRIST. What sort of power could do that? What sort of power could tear down all the divisions, and the hatred and animosity and bring unity? Where diversity is real & celebrated and revolves around Christ.
And no one can get an attitude or arrogant, because WE WERE ALL ADOPTED! No one “belongs” in this family more than any other. We are like this crew…..(ok, only one of them was adopted into our family, but you have to love this picture)
That is our God. This is our Family.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
– John 13:34-35
Every time we stop to honor a brother or sister, it turns the ways of the world on their head. It is subversive. It is a tangible manifestation of the Gospel. God is honored and the world takes notice.
(a great example of that in a recent blog post by Tullian Tchividjian on his public recent ‘break-up’ with the gospel coalition. i don’t know too much about the conflict, but the apology captured the beauty of honor/respect in the midst of disagreement)
HONOR YOUR FAMILY TO MOVE GOD’S KINGDOM FORWARD
I visited Lifepoint Church in Lewis Center OH this summer. No one knew I was coming…but I know and respect the leaders there and thought it would be fun to worship with their community. As the service started we had a wonderful time praising and honoring the Lord, then pastor Dean came up to preach. Before he began, to my surprise he said, “we have a special guest here….Jon Shah from h2o church is visiting…and then blah blah blah (insert really nice stuff here)” He then cracked a joke about me being from Michigan and moved on.
But right afterwards, a lady in front of me turned around and shook my hand and said, “it is a real honor to meet you.”
Huh? I had no idea who she was. Or why she would consider it an honor to meet me. But it didn’t seem like the typical Christian pleasantry, she seemed very sincere.
And it nourished my soul in a way that took me by surprise.
Because serving Christ can be hard. For people in some cultures it can bring mockery and even persecution. Sacrifice and pain. I haven’t experienced much pain, but it can be lonely and sad. It can be heart-breaking and hard work. There is suffering. Jesus guarantees it. (Jn 16:33). The NT writers speak of it often.
And the honor and kindness of our family can help us stay encouraged and filled with faith.
A kind word. An unexpected compliment. A surprise gift.
They are reminders from our brothers and sisters. A message from your Father. KEEP GOING. IT IS WORTH IT. YOUR FATHER IS PLEASED. YOUR FAMILY IS WITH YOU. WE RECOGNIZE AND HONOR GOD’S GIFTS AND WORK IN YOU.
And WE ALL NEED THIS. Even the coolest, more secure leader you know.
Even the smallest messages of love and honor give LIFE. And God’s Kingdom moves forward.
HONOR YOUR FAMILY TO KEEP YOURSELF SAFE
In my mind, every time we honor our brothers and sisters we subvert our “me-first” culture. We challenge our pride and remind ourselves what is REALLY true. We protect ourselves from thinking too highly of ourselves.
Showing honor to your brothers and sisters is literally practicing humility. It is acting in line with the Gospel and letting it take deeper root in your life. “To honor the other person is one way of holding in check the innate human tendency to honor oneself unduly.” (I read this somewhere)
Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. – Romans 12:10 ESV
A simple verse. An incredibly high call. But one worth fighting for. Let’s get our house in order.
PS If you made it through all 6 posts…thanks for reading…I hope it was encouraging in some way.