Steve Midgley gave the last message at the CCEF conference regarding how God redeems family. Perhaps this year’s CCEF conference has brought back bad memories of conflicts, divorce, abuse, distrust, or feuds. It is true that family life is under threat. So what hope do we have? Steve suggested that instead of gazing back on the past, we should be gazing forward for all that God has in store for us in what he intends family to become.
Steve suggested 3 ways that God redeems family:
First, he gives a radical redefinition of family. What does this family look like? In the gospels, we are told that a crowd was sitting around Jesus and his mother and brother were about him, asking to speak to him. But Jesus asked, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Then he pointed to his disciples and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (.) Jesus takes our understanding of family and turns it. Here is a family that is defined by theology. A family that is defined by the character of the relationship that they share with Jesus Christ. This Jesus calls his family. “He is showing us the direction family is moving, the future to where it is headed.” This matters to those of us whose family has let us down. “A family is coming that surpasses everything that we had ever known.”
Second, God causes a dramatic renewing of family. At the day of Pentecost, Christians were voluntarily giving up their property and possessions (). There were so transformed by the work of the Holy Spirit in their hearts that they choose to give up what they had to share with others. They wanted to be a united community of love. This is a picture of what church should be. For many, the decision to follow Christ means losing everything. But there is no one who has left father and mother for Jesus’ sake and for the gospel, who will not receive brothers and sisters and eternal life in the life to come (). Steve reminded us that “Church is not a means to an end, it is the end.” This is where we belong. Church is family to us now. “Church is what God came, in the person of Jesus Christ, to create.”
Third, God brings a glorious realization of family. See what kind of love that the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the children of God (). Adoption is our greatest blessing. Adoption signifies that our salvation is corporate. Being adopted means to belong to him, to have God as our Father. In the book of Revelation, as the sweep of history reaches it’s climax, we are no longer married or being given in marriage, no longer distinguished by nationality or race or class, but we are finally and gloriously united to Christ, gathered together from every tribe and tongue and nation. There are some things in our family now that are not right. “But a day is coming when family will be finally and utterly right.” For when Christ appears we shall see him as he is and we shall be like him. All wrongs will be made right.
Does that mean we shrug our shoulders and say that the present doesn’t really matter then? No, quite the reverse. As we see what God is going to do with family and where it is headed, it stirs us to realize just how much family matters now. “It is not that heaven will be a little bit like family. Family is going to be a little bit like heaven. It is more precious as a result.”
What has God pressed on you these few days? Steve ended with a few suggestions to consider on how God may be speaking to us through this conference:
- Does God want you to be more present with your family? Physically, emotionally.
- Does God want you to extend grace? To Forgive? To extend grace like it has been extended to us?
- Does God call you to let down the drawbridge? To enlarge your family? To make rooms for others. Is there a child he calls you to adopt?
- Does God want you to take more risks? Does he call you to risk vulnerability in deepening a relationship with others… to be more vulnerable, honest, and rich to others?
46 While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 48 But he replied to the man who told him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” 49 And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! 50 For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (ESV)
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. (ESV)
29 Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life. (ESV)
3:1 See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. The reason why the world does not know us is that it did not know him. 2 Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, because we shall see him as he is. 3 And everyone who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure. (ESV)