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Risky Family

• Greg Boyd

We often craft together ideal images of of what a “good Christian” family ought to look like. Images of the idealistic post-war, bourgeois nuclear families are more frequently articulated as the “biblical” family. But, is that accurate? Greg provides for us a snapshot of the various families portrayed throughout the biblical narrative. From Adam and Eve to Solomon and his many wives and concubines, to Abraham and Sarah, we gather a sense that “biblical” families are just as messy and dysfunctional as what we may witness today. The hope of the family unit is Christ! The Christ who works within the mess of it all to make something beautiful.

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What is the “biblical” family? Is there such a thing? Often times we assume that a “good Christian family” is a family that never argues, is free of dysfunction, shares fruitful family devotions and prayer time, and merrily gets along every minute of everyday. During the post-war period, the bourgeois, nuclear family became the defining image of a strong, unified nation. And Christians have used the same image to define how a “biblical” family ought to look. But is this truly the case?

If we take a moment to examine the various family units throughout the biblical narrative what we’ll discover is not the idealistic nuclear family who is free of conflict and dysfunction. Rather, what we will see is often what we see and experience today. Families who have conflict… Who are messy, dysfunctional and broken. From Adam and Eve to Abraham and Sarah, yes, even to the family of Jesus, we read of mess and dysfunction. But we also read of a God who works within and through the mess in order to bring forth something beautiful.

We read of a God who, from the very start, has created a beautiful ideal for creation and community. However, through the sin of humanity that beautiful ideal is often missed and relationships are broken. God’s ‘ideal’ does not change. Instead, God works within the mess, meeting individuals, communities, and families exactly where they are in order to draw them closer to Godself and God’s ideal. This is the hope, this is the beauty of grace. God meets us exactly where we are and works with us there.

What, then, ought to be the focus of the family unit? Greg provides for us two practical steps to growing the family closer to God’s ideal image. First, it is so simply, to seek Christ and the Kingdom. “Seek first the Kingdom and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matt. 6 :34). If we want to see more Christ, more healing, more unity in our family unit, then we seek first the Kingdom. If we want to see change in our family relationships, that change must begin with ourselves. “Be the change you wish to see in the world,” says Gandhi. That statement can just as well be used for a Kingdom minded family unit. “Be the Kingdom change you want to see in your family, your spouse, your children…”

Secondly, take time and be present with your family. The temptation may be to busy the family with opportunities, sports, music, careers, etc. that we fail to carve out intentional time to be present with one another. Don’t chase after these things, for, as Matthew tells us, pagans run after these things. The first priority is the Kingdom. Then, take time and be present with one another. Unplug from technology. Engage in conversation. Have game nights. Whatever it looks like for you, simply take time and be present.

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Topics: Conflict, Family, Kingdom of God

Sermon Series: Worth the Risk

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Focus Scripture:

  • Matthew 6:25-34

    Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

    And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

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2 thoughts on “Risky Family

  1. Peter Ward says:

    “The first step that we must take if we are to receive the help that a biblical view can surely give, is not merely to see but authentically to understand that marriage has a christological original, basis, and starting point. In creating man – male and female – in his own image, and joining them together so that they become one flesh, God makes copies both of himself in his trinitarian unity and distinction as one God and three persons and of himself in relation to the people of his gracious election. Analogically, what is between Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and what ought to be and is and shall be between God and Israel and Christ and the church, is also what is meant to be in the relation of man and woman and more specifically husband and wife. Neither the intratrinitarian relationship nor the union between the heavenly bridegroom and his bride is a good copy of a bad original. Earthly marriage as it is now lived out is a bad copy of a good original.

    The copy became a bad one because man and woman distorted the original relation by living to self instead of living to God. Falling away from God meant falling out with one another. They could not even see the original of their special relationship anymore. They substituted a version of their own which, while it necessarily retained traces of what God intended, since they could not cease to be the creatures that God had made, introduced such factors as selfishness, arrogance, greed, violence and deceit which made even the maintenance of a marital relationship difficult, let alone its happy and harmonious functioning.” (God and Marriage by Geoffrey W Bromiley p77)

    “After this, Jesus and his disciples went out into the Judean countryside, where he spent some time with them, and baptized. Now John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because there was plenty of water, and people were coming and being baptized. (This was before John was put in prison.) An argument developed between some of John’s disciples and a certain Jew over the matter of ceremonial washing. They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.”

    To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him.’ The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete. He must become greater; I must become less.” (Jn 3:22-30)

    So we may conclude from the above that while True marriage has Trinitarian origins and has a unique expression between a husband and wife (who are believers), it is no less the case between the Bridegroom and the Bride.

  2. Donald McKay says:

    “Dedicating the adopted child of a homosexual couple”…to whom? to God? That’s good. But what of then training that child to disregard loving and worshiping that God and instead accepting its adoptive parents’ disposition toward God’s character & morality? What are we modeling to that child – are we merely giving lip-service to his Maker while modeling what He personally condemned after visiting Lot? Selah.

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