I started a new series this past weekend at GCC called, Modern Family. Part 1 is called, “Focus on MY Family.” For video or audio of the message click here. Below are some of my notes and I hope you find them helpful.
The Big Idea: The modern family is no longer dad, mom, 2.5 children and a golden retriever! Fact is, the modern family is no longer “traditional”- so what does this mean and what should my focus be?
The ABC TV sitcom, “Modern Family” depicts three families: 1) an older man married to a younger woman, who also happens to be hispanic, with one child, 2) a married man and woman with 3 children, and 3) a homosexual couple with a baby. The show could have also included a single mother with children, a single father with children, a lesbian couple, a couple living together who have both experienced divorce, etc. All of these would be descriptive of what a “modern family” looks like in America!
The Christian organization, Focus on the Family, is headquartered in Colorado Springs- there seems to be a very mixed debate regarding how Coloradans feel about it! I’ve seen the bumper stickers that say, “Focus on your own @#%$* family!” And, I would say that is true- not because I’m against the organization, I’m not! Please let me explain!
Focus on my own family has to be my utmost concern! In my opinion, again, the reason perhaps churches and church-goers are considered so hypocritical by our culture is because we so often don’t practice what we preach (every Barna Report for the past 20 years reveals this)! We tend to focus on everything and everyone else EXCEPT our own lives, and family! For example, did you know that there is no statistical difference between Christians and non-Christians when it comes to the divorce rate. Did you know that 3,500 people per day left the church last year?? We seem to have a major credibility problem. Perhaps this is the result of an unwillingness to be real, to truly deal with the realities of every day life, and to shift the moral bubble too far too the left or to the right in reaction to this crisis?? The solution? Focusing on the core values, character, and cause of Christ and the application of those things in my life and my family first of all! In other words, getting back to a real life, relational journey with Jesus and with one another, starting in my own house! The church is a family of families and my “family” has to be my focus!
Over 50% of all marriages now end in divorce. More households in America are now headed by non-married couples, etc. 28% of households in America are headed by one person. 40% of births are to unmarried women. 40% of all children will live in a co-habitation household. 15% of unmarried households are same-sex. Only 25% of all households are considered a traditional family- married parents with children. As you can see, the “modern family” in America today is no longer as traditional as we may think it is. So, how does the church respond to the modern family in America and how do we model the values that the Bible relates regarding family?
Interestingly, the Bible shares accounts of families that would make today’s modern sitcoms seem very moderate. For example, Abraham married his sister. Lot fathered children by his daughters. Sodom and Gomorrah was renown for homosexual and lesbian relationships, Jacob had 4 wives at one time. David had several wives, then committed adultery, had the woman’s husband killed, got her pregnant, the child died, and…, in both the OT and NT there was divorce, and Jesus specifically dealt with it, there were arranged marriages, people married in their teens, Mary was pregnant out of wedlock!!
So, what’s my point? Does the Bible say that that all these various “family” types and situations are approved and appropriate? Absolutely NOT!! Rather, it points out 3 very critical things: 1) Exegesis and hermeneutics must be applied to fully appreciate the context of these accounts, 2) It proves that humanity has, and will always be subject to living as we please- “every man doing what is right in his own eyes!”, and 3) With further examination, there ARE undeniable truths and values that are the foundation for family!
As we think about our response to the modern family in America, here’s a few more guidelines we need to apply on the front end…
First, God is love! (1 Jn. 4:16) So, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you’ve been, what you’ve done, and what’s going on right now in your life, family, etc. God loves you, so do I, and so does GCC!
Second, none of us should be judging or condemning anyone! (Luke 6:37) We are not to point our finger at anyone, because we “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God!” Jesus said, “Don’t judge unless you be judged!”
Third, I am most responsible for me, what God expects for and from me and my “household!” (Phil. 2:12) Therefore, any and all biblical principles regarding family must be applied in my life in accordance with my personal relationship with God and with my family!
Fourth, Jesus is our model for ALL things- especially relationship, family, and how we consider and treat others around us in our culture. With that in mind, recall that Jesus, without ever sinning or compromising anything, yet judging no one, except perhaps the religious fanatics of his day, had great appeal to people who lives were marked by illicit sex, relational dysfunction, and every imaginable issue! Jn. 8:12 Jesus is the Light- light brings revelation so we know right direction. Jn. 8:32 Jesus is the Truth- truth sets you free, it’s the key that unlocks the chains or prison you may find yourself in. Jn. 14:15-26 Jesus is Love- love is the most compelling force in the universe and is why God, as your heavenly Father, pays the proces to restore us into “family!”
I can’t unpack all of this, but the texts that we read point out some very key things that we need to consider as it relates to family…
Fear the Lord and Serve Him… Alone!
“Fear the Lord” means to reverence, respect, honor, obey what God’s Word says. Align your life with God’s will… The problems always arise when we lose our respect for God; when we don’t obey his word or will, in any context! We think we know what’s best for our lives more than God does, or we don’t like what he desires. “Fear the Lord” means we acknowledge He is God and we are not and that he does have our best interest in mind.
Remember too, Paul says that children should honor and respect their parents. Listen, that’s only going to happen when you, as a parent, honor and respect your heavenly Father!
“Serve him alone” means taking inventory of your life and family and determining if, indeed, you are totally committed to God’s purpose and plan- in submission to it! Remember too, Paul talks about submission in marriage, family; but it is centered in “service!” Serving the purpose of God, serving the purpose for your spouse, your kids, your family! Don’t serve the “other” gods of Egypt and the Amorites and their counterparts today. Whatever the Amorites wanted there was a god for it- harvest, fertility, seasonal, etc. Don’t sell out to and serve what the culture worships/serves, which is to satisfy the “desires of the flesh!” Serving God alone means you don’t allow other people or feelings to dictate and control your life- especially in relationships! It doesn’t matter what other’s do or don’t do, what matters is…
I will fear and serve the Lord alone!
ME and MY Family, WE will Serve the Lord!
Joshua says, “As for ME and MY family, WE will serve the Lord!” Joshua knows this is his choice for himself and for his family! So, what choice are you making?? Can you say, “As for ME, I will serve the Lord?” As for MY family, WE will serve the Lord?” What does that look like for YOUR life personally, your family? This is YOUR decision to make or not make!! In other words, your spiritual development, your families spiritual development, is YOUR responsibility- it’s your decision!
Early on, Jo Ann and I decided that “WE would serve the Lord!” That raising our family was our first and foremost priority and place of ministry! This decision, like Joshua’s determines the course of your life, your family- it’s about personal and shared responsibility. This key decision is always the key decision in every issue that your or your family will face- “ME and MY family, WE will serve the Lord!”
Consider this, dysfunction is always the outcome of bad decisions- either one you made or other’s have made that impact your life. Children face dysfunction because a parent or parents make bad decisions- decisions to NOT serve the Lord! Dysfunction is the outcome of bad decisions! Which means, that good and right decisions- “We will serve the Lord”, leads to what I call distinction! There is a distinct sense of God’s approval, blessing, direction; there is well-being. This isn’t to suggest you’ll be exempt from challenge, etc., it simply means that because you are “serving” the Lord that you can trust him to bring about his purposes in your’s and your family’s lives!
Focusing on My family by reverencing and serving the Lord will always result in better and right relationships!