Study Guide: A Family Affair

Sunday October 16, 2011 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

We’ve all dealt with issues in our families. In this sermon, Greg sets up the framework of understanding biblical family. This framework will help us understand how God wants us to relate to our families over the next five weeks of study. This sermon will make you go “hmmm”.

Extended Summary:

We’re starting a new adventure series this week, and it centers on the issues that happen in families. Whether marriage, children, parents, in-laws, friends or dating, this adventure series will have something for everyone. Today, we are centering on how to understand how the Bible talks about family and how that framework can lead to a more Kingdom family.

In order to understand the biblical passages, we have to take a look at the context in which they were written. In the ancient world, they lived in a very strong patriarchal society. The family always came from the bloodline of the Father. The Father had supreme authority over that family, even the sons who were married. It was understood that the job of the family was to carry out the father’s wishes, honor the father, and to expand the family through marriage and procreation. This understanding of family greatly impacts our understanding of the Bible and its messages on family.

God is our Father, and we are his children. In a general sense, God created every human and is their father. Yet, in a unique way, God becomes our Father when we believe and the Spirit gives us a new birth. We are born from above when we believe Jesus is our Lord and submit to Him. When we submit to God, we receive a heavenly DNA from above.

It is important to understand that we don’t manifest or grow into this new nature. Like a parent with children, they are the children first and how they act is secondary. Even with this new DNA, we’ve received hundred of lies in our lives that are difficult to break out of. However, our familial connection to God is not dependent on our actions. We are His children first and foremost. While we are transforming our lives through the renewing of our minds, we never lose our DNA that has been given to us by God.

When we finally see Jesus face to face and the corruption in this world is gone, we’ll see him as he really is because we’ll all look exactly like him. When all the lies and crap have burnt away, we’re going to shine with God’s glory like Jesus did on the Mount of Transfiguration. We’ll need sunglasses just to look at each other! As we take hold of our inheritance as children, all of humanity will come together and present an unimaginably, beautiful kaleidoscope reflecting the glory of God.

Since God is our father and all who submit to him are his children, then all who submit to him are his family. We are all brothers and sisters of Jesus and God is our Father. In the same way that Adam created a corrupt humanity, Jesus inaugurated a new human family with Kingdom DNA. This new humanity is a family with an undeniable bond in Jesus. Our responsibility in life is to honor our father, carry out his will, and pass on the family name by going out and making disciples of all nations.

Finally, and perhaps oft misunderstood, is that as members of our Father’s family, our central allegiance is to our Father and to the family. This is one of the most scandalous aspects of Jesus’ ministry. He turns the importance of biological family on its head. Jesus wants us to honor our biological family, but God comes before biology. Our allegiance to Him is first and foremost.

This framework of family will help us understand the rest of this adventure series. No matter what family you’ve grown up in, you’ve got a new family born from above. Understanding what this new family will look like when this world is purified will help us understand how to better fulfill our family obligations now.

Reflection Questions:

  1. What did your family look like growing up? Was it a good experience or a bad experience and why?
  2. Are you hesitant or overjoyed by your new family? Why?
  3. When it comes to understanding your new role in God’s family, do you feel good enough to be God’s child?
  4. In what ways could you improve your submission to God? Who in your life can help you and how could you get them involved?