Doing Family According To Jesus – Part 3

Having finished our discussion on Jesus’ radical view on family, it is important that we (now) consider its application to our everyday lives. In other words, that we understand what doing family according to Jesus it looks like.

With regard to the world’s values or expectations, conversations with outsiders, and fellowship with those not welcomed to God.

You reject the family values or expectations established by the world.

Your conversations with outsiders are to be focused on family talk: God and His Word/gospel/our church family.

You have no fellowship with anyone who does not welcome conversation about God and His gospel or refuses to act on what they have heard (including biological family and friends) (the exclusions: 1Co 7:12-14; Mat 15:3-6).

With regard to your major life decisions, personal life, and attitude toward your brothers and sisters

All major life decisions- or in the lives of those in your care, are under the oversight of your church family (most especially your ordained pastor) (Heb 13:17).

“It is fitting that you should run together in accordance with the will of the bishop [i.e. the ordained pastor] who by God’s appointment rules over you…He that refuses to assemble with the church (for the judgment of the bishop) has condemned himself. Let us be careful then not to set ourselves in opposition to the bishop, in order that we may be subject to God…It is becoming therefore, that you also should be obedient to your bishop, and contradict him in nothing; for it is a fearful thing to contradict any such person. – St. Ignatius (direct disciple of the Apostle John)

Your life is an open book to your church family and you welcome their correction (versus you hide your life and get angry or pout when others call out your sin).

5.1. (Isa 44:9-20) = Fallen feelings fueled by pooled ignorance produces a deluded heart that cannot deliver itself.

5.2. The only way to be delivered from self-delusion is letting others into your day-to-day life to assess and exhort/correct where necessary (Heb 3:12-13; Consider also Psa 141:5; Jam 5:19-20; Pro 18:1-2 w/2Co 6:11-12; Pro 12:15; Pro 15:12; btw Mat 18:15 ≠ go to your bro 1st before talking to others).

5.3. What welcoming the correction of your church family looks like (false humility versus true humility) (Isa 58:1-9)

Excluding a pattern of untrustworthiness and lying, or possessing sufficient evidence of wrongdoing, you always give your brothers and sisters the benefit of the doubt and think the best of them.

6.1. (1Ti 6:3-4 “evil suspicions”) = Notice the internal engine producing such feelings: 1) They are a person who is “puffed up w/conceit and understands nothing”[ἐπίσταμαι = epistemology; μηδείς = no one; Luk 5:14] = A person whose confidence (in their ability to read people) is not based on comprehension of the facts/truth (e.g., Sixth sense = Reality determined through physiology/body versus psychology/brain), 2) They have an “unhealthy craving for controversy and quarrels about words” = They are addicted to questioning/distrusting people (or the words of people) they should trust (e.g., Conspiracy theorists = People [esp. those in authority] are secretly/sinfully plotting against them).

6.2. The way (therefore) to avoid evil suspicions is to: 1) STOP letting your trust in others be based on the feeling that other person gives you (e.g., “they seem nice or friendly”; e.g. “they seem harsh or mean”) versus the facts about that other person (e.g. they have a history of lying and untrustworthiness; e.g.; they have a history of always speaking the truth no matter how difficult or unpopular). 2) STOP thinking everyone is out to get you!

6.3. Does this mean we should never be suspicious or untrusting? NO. Scripture (most especially the Proverbs) are filled with commands to be suspicious (and untrusting) of certain people, but it is to be based on facts, not feelings – i.e. they have a pattern of lying or untrustworthiness (Pro 26: 6, 8, 10; Jer 7:4 and 9:4; Rom 16:17-18 even Mat 7:6 and also Joh 2:24-25 “them…a man” = Those currently believing in Jesus were those who would later betray Him).

6.4. The POINT NOT TO MISS: Unless there is fact-based and sufficient evidence, we must always give others the benefit of the doubt (no matter how we feel). We cannot act on how we feel. If we do, we may become guilty of serious sin – i.e. a malicious witness (Deu 19:15-21; Pro 25:8-10). It can also send us to Hell (Rev 21:27 [“does what is false”] and 22:15 [“practices falsehood”] = Same words for both phrases. Literally those “who make-up/create false realities in respect to God” [e.g. false religions/false gospels], history [e.g. revisionist history] or people [e.g. caricatures]).

You stand up for your church family and pastors, by strongly opposing those who speak against them.

7.1. We do not tolerate anyone (inside or out) who speaks against our church family and pastors. That includes biological family (Remember: blood is thicker than water). We are to take personal anytime someone dares to speak against our church family and pastors. IOW: those are fighting words. And that b/c to speak against them is the equivalent of speaking against our Savior (Mat 10:40; Luk 10:16).

7.2. Such individuals are encouraging dissension and are to be reported to the elders (Rom 16:17-19)

7.3. One of the keys to effectively advancing God’s kingdom against the false forms of Christianity that exist in the world is through our unity in this respect: that all of us are committed to standing up for our church family – including her pastors, by strongly opposing those who speak against them. It is also a sign of our salvation (Phi 1:27-28) = Our unified and bold witness presents a “clear sign” to those who oppose us that we are the ones truly “saved” and they are the ones on the road to “destruction”.

7.4. Given the overall context of 1st Timothy, this act of strongly opposing those who oppose Christ’s church and people is the key function of those selected as ruling (non-ordained) elders (1Ti 1:18 w/3:8-12) = Appoint righteous men as your security team on the battlefield, men who will boldly fight for God’s house: His people and pastors (1Ti 3:15). As such, this is the mindset we should have when considering elders. Not only must they be righteous (according to the criteria of 3:8-12), but also the bold protectors of God’s people and pastors. They are the NC Levites (Isa 66:21 w/Exo 32:26-29; Num 1:53; Lev 18:1-6 = Levites guard the priests and God’s house [they are the police/protectors]; priests guard the holy things in the house – God’s laws and sacraments [they are the judges]). Once more then, this is how we should be choosing men to fill this role in our church. They must be men who have already demonstrated loyalty and boldness in fighting for god’s people and pastors – i.e., for their church family. Cowards and the limp-wristed men need not apply.

CLOSING CHALLENGE: We need more ruling elders. Think about who among the men, have already demonstrated themselves to be not only righteous but bold against those who oppose Christ’s people and pastors.

Doing Family According To Jesus – Part 2

Having finished our discussion on Jesus’ radical view on family, it is important that we (now) consider its application to our everyday lives. In other words, that we understand what doing family according to Jesus it looks like.

With regard to the world’s values or expectations, conversations with outsiders, and fellowship with those not welcomed to God.

You reject the family values or expectations established by the world.

Your conversations with outsiders are to be focused on family talk: God and His Word/gospel/our church family.

You have no fellowship with anyone who does not welcome conversation about God and His gospel or refuses to act on what they have heard (including biological family and friends).

With regard to your major life decisions, personal life, and attitude toward your brothers and sisters

All major life decisions – or in the lives of those in your care, are under the oversight of your church family (most especially your ordained pastor).

4.1. (1Co 1:10; Phi 1:27, 2:2)

4.2. Some practical examples:

4.2.1. Discipleship/discipline of your kids (Eph 6:4) = Notice Paul (their ordained pastor) is telling them what to do with their kids. IOW: he had jurisdiction over the parents in respect to how they raised their children. And based on the scope of the two terms used by Paul (“discipline” and “instruction of the Lord”), this would include jurisdiction over their education and extracurricular commitments since these two terms (discipline and instruction) encompass the entirety of the child’s spiritual and/or character formation. This means if parents don’t know what the church understands to be God’s prescription (in respect to these two terms) and their application to the different areas of their children’s lives (education etc), then they need to go to the church (or its ordained pastors) and ask. Your children are not your own to do whatever you want with (especially if they are covenant children – i.e. a part of the church family).

4.2.2. Where to live, what to do for work (Jam 4:13-17) = According to James it is “evil” and sin” to make decisions as to where to live (“Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there”) or what to do for work (“we will …trade and make a profit”- i.e. career choices) without determining (first) the will of God (15).

4.3. According to Scripture, the will of God is determined by the church family (or her anointed pastors) (Act 15:1-3 = Notice it is the church who decides what should be done; 15:6 “apostles [anointed men] and elders [meaning anointed elders such as James] w/19-28; Gal 2:1-2; 1Co 14:29 [w/28 “church”] = Who is determining the will of God in this matter is the church [Hence Mat 18:17 “tell it to the church”] = The church [or her ordained leaders] possess the HS for discerning God’s will [Joh 16:13] = Verse 16 reveals which of the two HS events Jesus is referring to. It is the one after His resurrection [versus after His ascension] [v16]. It is, therefore, the anointing of the HS that Jesus is referring to, that portion of the Spirit given to pastors for discerning God’s will for His people [Joh 21] – versus the baptism of the HS [Acts 2] that which helps all Christians live in obedience to God and His appointed leaders.

4.4. Does this mean that ordained pastors are infallible (or cannot be wrong) – or that we cannot disagree with him? (emphatically) NO. But it does mean that if we think they are wrong, then we have an obligation to go to them and reason from Scripture (following the protocol of Mat 18:15-17 when necessary) (e.g. our view regarding the excommunicated being able to pray – Psa 51). If we can’t demonstrate our position to be correct (to them or the church) then we must continue to submit to them understanding this to be God’s (current) will for our lives (Rom 13:2; Eph 6:5-7; 1Pe 2:13-18) = Notice, neither Paul nor Peter give exceptions based on foolishness, error or even danger. God never excuses disobedience to His established authorities for such things. Why? Because it is God’s will that His appointed leaders not always be correct as a means of testing our trust and submission to Him (1Pe 2:19-23). In this respect consider (1Pe 3:1; Eph 6:1-3) = Does God’s Word teach that wives or children have the right to disobey if they believe what they are being told to be foolish, in error, or even dangerous? Is not sin the only exception? (Notice, Peter applies the prior established principle as his reasoning – 1Pe 3:5-6). If God expects this kind of behavior in relation to wives and children (those under God’s appointed authorities of husband and parents) why would we think different rules apply to God’s ordained pastors in the church who have been given His highest authority on earth, the authority to bind and loose (Mat 16:17-19)? When are we out of God’s will for obeying God’s leaders? Only when it can be proven (through God’s protocol – Mat 18) that what we are being commanded to do is sin.

4.5. POINT (then) NOT TO MISS = Gospel accuracy and enforcement aside, your assessment before God will not be based on whether your pastor always got it right, or made the wisest decisions, but whether or not you happily submitted to his decisions (Heb 13:17). Once more, will not the same be true with respect to wives and their husbands or children and their parents?

4.6. That our major life decisions be (specifically) in agreement/submission to the church’s ordained pastors is confirmed by St. Ignatius (a direct disciple of the Apostle John who also had correspondence w/Jesus’ mother Mary). Consider his words to the early church: “It is fitting that you should run together in accordance with the will of the bishop [i.e. the ordained pastor] who by God’s appointment rules over you…He that refuses to assemble with the church (for the judgment of the bishop) has condemned himself. Let us be careful then not to set ourselves in opposition to the bishop, in order that we may be subject to God…It is becoming, therefore, that you also should be obedient to your bishop, and contradict him in nothing; for it is a fearful thing to contradict any such person. For no one does [by such conduct] deceive him that is visible but does, in reality, seek to mock Him who is invisible. And every such act has respect not to man, but God…Some indeed give one the title of bishop, but do all things without him. Such persons seem to me not to be possessed by a good conscience, seeing they are not steadfastly gathered together according to the commandment (under and in submission to their bishop)…To those who indeed talk of the bishop, but do all things without him, He who is the true and first Bishop, and only High Priest by nature, will declare ‘Why do you call Me Lord and do not do what I say?’ Such persons are dissemblers and hypocrites.”

4.7. Summing up what the early church thought Joseph Hellerman in his book, When the Church Was A Family (says this)…“The [first century Christian] person perceive[d] himself/herself to be a member of a church and responsible to the church for his or her actions, destiny, career, development and life in general…The individual person is embedded in the life of the church and is free to do what he or she feels right and necessary only if in accord with the church (family’s) norms and only if the action is in the church’s best interest. The church has priority over the individual”.

4.8. This (again) is doing family according to Jesus. The world (and wicked people) buck against such constraints, but those who truly love (and are following) Christ welcome it. They know that such things are for their (and their family’s) protection.

 

CLOSING CONTEMPLATION: Are you doing church according to Jesus? Just like His laws, God gives the church family as protection (not a prison). Those who fail to do family according to Jesus are therefore putting themselves in grave danger of not being a part of that family in heaven.

Doing Family According To Jesus – Part 1

Having finished our discussion on Jesus’ radical view on family, it is important that we (now) consider its application to our everyday lives. In other words, that we understand what doing family according to Jesus it looks like.

You reject the family values or expectations established by the world.

1.1. (Luk 9:57-62) = Given Luke’s decision to group these events together, means that we should assume they possess the same general context from which to discern their intended principle or point. That context is family – or more specifically, the values and expectations possessed by the world’s view of family. There are three presented in these verses. Jesus opposes/rejects all three: 1) your home is where your biological family resides (57-58) = “Holes” (or dens) and “nests” represent not only an animal’s resting place but the place where its biological family resides. Humans in the world identify home – or their resting place, in the same way. It is the place where my biological family resides. Jesus however opposed such thinking (“The Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head” – i.e. My resting place -or home, is not determined by my biological family). What determined Jesus’ home (and the same would be expected of His followers) was wherever He was doing God’s work (Joh 12:26; Luk 17:21 – “the kingdom of God is in the midst of you”). IOW: home will be determined (for the Christian) by the resting place – or home, of God. Which according to Paul is the church or the church family (1Ti 3:15). 2) children must honor their parents in death or their parent’s dying wishes (59-60) = What is communicated by this man could refer to returning home for a funeral or to saying his goodbyes to his father before he dies. In either case, Jesus makes clear that no such expectation of honor toward one’s parents is recognized by God and therefore must never get in the way of any responsibilities we possess in respect to Him or His family (the church). 3) the approval of your biological family is necessary – or something you care about, when it comes to those choices you make in following Christ (61-62) = Most scholars agree the real reason this man wishes to go home and say goodbye to his family is so that while there, he can receive their approval. As before, Jesus makes clear that caring about – or adhering to, such worldly family values disqualify a person from being a part of His family (“No one [is fit for the kingdom of God] who puts his hand to the plow and looks back” = Is concerned about the opinion, approval of those they are leaving behind – e.g. Gen 19:26 w/Luk 17:20-24).

1.2. (Mar 3:31-35) = Jesus is both dismissive and disrespectful to His mother’s demands according to the world and its expectations of adult children – no longer living in the home (i.e. that they continue to respect/listen to/obey their parents). He not only refuses to go outside and speak with his mother but also exposes her and her words as foolish by using them as a teaching point w/His disciples. Jesus’ behavior toward his mother may be what the prophet Simeon is referring to when addressing Mary in (Luk 2:34-35).

1.3. Another example of Jesus’ rejection of worldly expectations when it came to biological family (or His mother) is (Joh 2:1-4) = Notice how Jesus responds to His mother who is trying to use the fact that she is His mother to manipulate Him into doing her bidding (“Woman what does that have to do w/Me?”) = He doesn’t address her by the title of mother but rather “woman” indicating that she no longer had authority to tell Him what to do.

1.5. The POINT NOT TO MISS = Jesus does NOT have the same values or expectations as the world when it comes to our biological family. His are radically different. And we are to imitate Him – not the world if we want to get to heaven.

Your conversations with church family and outsiders are to be focused on family talk: God and His Word/gospel.

2.1. (Eph 5:15-20) = Spiritual things/God’s Word and gospel (e.g. what we are learning, what we are thankful for, Who God is, and what He has done in our life or is currently doing in our life) are to be the focus of our speech and actions – especially when w/others (Col 3:16-17).

2.2. This includes w/unbelievers (Mat 10:27) “proclaim on the rooftops” = To all people –not just those who are believers. Otherwise, we show ourselves to be guilty of two things: 1) we are fearing men rather than fearing God (i.e. caring too much about what they think of us or will do to us) (27-31), 2) we are ashamed of Christ (which means He will be ashamed –and deny us, on J Day) (32-33).

2.3. Consider then: If you are hanging out with biological family on the holidays who are not believers, is this what you wb doing? If not, then you show yourself to be a coward who is ashamed of Christ (Rom 1:15-16 = Paul was “eager” [the opposite of reluctant, having a hard time waiting or holding back] to preach the gospel b/c he was “not ashamed” of it).

You have no fellowship with anyone who does not welcome conversation about God and His gospel or refuses to act on what they have heard (including biological family and friends).

3.1. Such people are a waste of the time God has given you to be advancing His kingdom. This is the point behind Jesus’ parable of the talents (Mat 25). We are not to waste any of the resources that God has given us to advance His kingdom (including time – which once more is what we are doing when we spend time with those not interested in God/gospel conversations – Eph 5:15-16).

3.2. Jesus is explicit how we are to handle family/friends who do not want to hear about God or the gospel (Mat 10:1-15) = Notice the phrase, “shake off the dust from your feet” is coupled with the mention of “Sodom and Gomorrah.” That b/c Jesus’ instruction is an allusion to the command given to Lot and his family in (Gen 19:17). Shaking off the dust, therefore, refers to not lingering or hanging around. It means to move quickly away from such people or places (to “escape”) so as not to be caught w/in the impending blast radius. The people that Jesus is referring to (btw) –included biological family. Most of those in these villages (since they were Israelites) were relatives of the disciples. They were going into their hometowns and villages. The majority of these people were also those who professed to already be followers of God (e.g. those already claiming to be Christians). The important question (then) to consider is this, “How are you responding to family (or friends) who don’t want to have God (or gospel) conversations—or continue to linger – or make excuses, as to why they are not responding in repentance and belief? BTW: there is a big difference between the person who says “we want to hear more” and the one who is unresponsive or (in hearing more) continues to linger or make excuses. Our response should be markedly different between these two groups of people. With the former, we stick around (and continue evangelizing them), the other we run from. We stop wasting the borrowed time God has given us. We stop hanging around in the blasting zone lest we be destroyed w/them (Luk 17:21 – “Remember Lot’s wife”). Why would God cause us to perish w/such people? B/C we are now guilty (of their same crimes) by our fellowship w/them (2Jo 1:19-21).

3.3. (2Co 6:14-16a) = To not be “unequally yoked” w/“unbelievers”(which btw includes unbelieving family) means (according to what Paul says in the rest of verse 14) no “partnership”, no “fellowship.” IOW: No relationship, no hanging out or spending time w/them, no recreating with them or calling them your “best friends” or “favorite people”. We have (as v15 says) no “share with an unbeliever” (any more than Christ does with “Belial” or Satan). We can have association w/them (according to 1Co 5:9-10). But never fellowship – or relationship, that is intentional –unless that intention is to introduce them to our world w/God and to share the gospel. This means this is what is happening when they are with us. They are hearing about and observing our relationship w/God. We are shining our light among them –not hiding it in shame (Mat 5:16). Notice Paul says that such lack of fellowship w/them is necessary to possessing (or continuing to possess) fellowship or a relationship w/God. (16b-18) = No covenant fellowship/relationship w/God if you have fellowship/relationship w/them. Hence why (7:1) = “Holiness” refers to what we no longer tolerate. In this case, fellowship/relationship with unbelievers or false believers – biological family (or otherwise). The world is on the opposite end of the spectrum and on their way to hell because of it. In the world, it is all about toleration whereas following God is all about holiness (no toleration). Coming to Christ and being in saving relationship with Him requires we be on the side of holiness.

3.4. Consider (then) WWJD? Do you think He would hang out at family reunions or get together with biological family on the holidays – unless it was to speak about God? Yet Jesus and His disciples were instrumental in seeing a lot of people get saved. How? B/C they took that (otherwise waste of time) and focused it on those welcomed to God.