Family Life Series Intro – All in the Family
I’m starting a new series this week called Family Life. Looking at things, especially the Gospel, through the perspective of family logic has helped clear a lot of things up for me. So I wanted to share some of these things I have learned and with holidays coming up I thought it would be good timing for this topic.
When it comes to living the Christian life, I think it’s real easy for us to get so deep into our works that we miss out on relationship and the family life that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit desire for us to have. That’s a shame in my opinion. It really bothers me that so many Christians are so heavily burdened that they are never able to enjoy their life with God. This is why I so appreciate the teachings of Bertie Brits and Greg Henry…because they stress the importance of family dynamics and our identity as sons as opposed to servants. There is a big difference. It’s an absolute life changer when one can see the true heart of God towards them. It affects every aspect of their life, just like when you see the effects that a loving family has on a child.
In 1960 only 10% of children grew up without a father in the home. Today that number is 40%. Families are being broken up left and right and that is a big reason for many of the problems people are having. I believe if you compare a child that grows up in poverty but has a loving family as opposed to those who are wealthy without a loving family environment, that the one who grew up in a loving family would be much better off in the long run. The one who grows up in the loving environment will be much more apt to be secure in their identity and endure any situations they face in life while the one who grows up without a loving family will most likely look to the world to find their worth and value which leaves them very unstable. This shows the importance of family life and sets the stage for the rest of this series.
Looking on the Heart
Most Christians know the scripture 1 Samuel 16:7 which says that people judge by the outward appearance but the Lord looks on the heart. This means God looks at your core beliefs and why you do what you do, not just what you do. We have a tendency to think that someone’s outwards actions tell the whole story, but that is just not the case. I’m sure we can all think of times when we did things we really didn’t mean to. Sometimes we let our emotions get the best of us. Just look at Peter’s life. Many times his heart was right, but the follow through was not (the denial, walking on water, etc.).
Think about the way you look at your family members. You’re usually much more willing to give them grace then you would be to somebody you don’t know. You may be very critical of somebody who does something you don’t agree with who is a stranger but if they’re family we’re quick to come up with the reasons/excuses why they did what they did. You might even find yourself liking or loving posts on social media from your family members, but when somebody else says or posts something very similar you don’t give them any love.
In my life, there is a little girl named Ilyana who goes to my church. She is really precious and has a great attitude. Her dad is not involved in her life so I love to show her special attention when I can. To me, it’s like this girl can do no wrong. I don’t care what happens, I always see her as innocent. And she’s not even really family to me. Sometimes I feel like she is, but you get my point. This is how I feel like God looks at us. Most feel like He’s up in heaven with his arms crossed and a mad look on his face. I see him like the picture on my logo with big smile on his face. I heard Joel Osteen compare the way God looks at us to a kid in a football game who was returning a kickoff. I don’t remember all the details but he basically said this kid made one good move, but messed up the rest of the play and I think he lost yardage. Joel was standing next to his dad during the play and his dad said, boy did you see that one good move he made. You see, that’s how we look at people we really love. We see their one good move. That’s how God looks at us. He’s not scrutinizing our every move. We are the apple of His eye. Greg Henry put it this way on Facebook recently:
“You are the passion in God’s heart. He is passionate about you & your life. He is passionate about you experiencing His love, and being set free from the fear that is in the world.”You are the passion in God's heart. He is passionate about you & your life. ~ Greg Henry Click To Tweet
I believe the way this country has looked at new President-Elect Donald Trump is an example of the opposite side of the spectrum for us. Has he done some stupid things and made some inappropriate comments? Sure. But I think he also has a genuine love for our country and desire to help the American people. However, it seemed like all we heard about leading up to the election was all the negative things he did. Over and over and over again. Now I understand that when running for President, one will be scrutinized and that just because Jesus loves him regardless does not mean we cannot question his qualifications for the job. I’m not saying his outward actions shouldn’t be taken into the equation when considering your vote for President but I think the heart should account for something. We are not seeing him the way God sees him when we focus solely on the outward actions.
How God Changed My Heart
God has done quite a work in my heart in the about 8 years I’ve been walking with Him now. I’ve shared some of these things before but I think they bear repeating. First, as a reminder, when I refer to the heart I’m talking about the belief system. What you believe deep down in the core of your being. This is where you will make decisions and reason from.
My background is that I grew up playing a lot of sports with basketball being my favorite one. My generation was also heavily influenced by the hip hop culture. I was also from Detroit, where one of the biggest rap stars ever came from, that being Eminem. He is known for insulting other well-known celebrities, making fun of them and battle rapping. I played a lot of pickup basketball in my neighborhood as well, with kids who loved to talk trash. I’m not saying it was like the White Men Can’t Jump movie, but it was similar at times. So being around this type of environment all the time I was ingrained with thinking negatively about people and looking for the worst in them rather than the best. I could have chosen to not participate in it, so I don’t want to put all the blame on Eminem or hip hop…I’m just saying this is what I chose and the result of it. I knew some of the things I was getting involved in were not good, but it’s like 2pac said “even though they sold drugs, they showed a young brother love.” The need to belong and be accepted is the heart’s biggest need. I heard Arthur Meintjes tell of a woman who put her kids into a car, tied them up and drove them into a dam, killing them. All because her boyfriend would not accept her if she had kids. There is no telling how low someone will go to be accepted.
When I started walking with God, I was surprised to hear that he didn’t focus on my outward actions. What I found was that He was changing the way I thought and what I believed. Instead of looking at somebody and immediately noticing something bad or thinking something nasty, I would hear Him saying things like “isn’t this person beautiful”, “I would love for you to get to know this person, they’re so awesome”, etc. I’ll admit I was pretty shocked when I started hearing these things because of some of the old programming that was still left in mind, but it grew on me. I heard Greg Henry tell a story about how his wife’s parents adopted a little dog. I believe it was abused by it’s previous owner, which resulted in it being very mean and having a hard time trusting it’s owners. But because they chose to love the dog anyway, despite it’s bad behavior, the dog started to believe it was lovable and thus started to trust it’s owners and act much nicer. This is how the heart of the Father influences us which leads to our actions.
Examples in the Bible
There are several examples in the Bible of how God looks on the heart:
– Peter’s Denial – he denied Jesus 3 times during the events leading up to the cross then Jesus asks him 3 times in John 21 if he loves him. Jesus didn’t do like how we often do by looking only at Peter’s outward actions. He knew what was in his heart and gave him an opportunity to redeem himself. Had Jesus not done this Peter’s inclusion as one of his disciple’s may have been questioned. Jesus restored him.
– Paul’s Conversion – In Acts 9 we see Paul’s conversion on the road to Damascus. This is somebody who was persecuting and killing followers of Jesus. God saw passed the error that Paul was in and saw the zeal for Him that was in his heart.
– The Woman Caught in Adultery – the law said to stone her to death. Jesus said he didn’t condemn her.
– Gideon – The Lord called him a mighty man of valor despite some of his fearful actions at the time.
– Mephibosheth – technically it’s David who restores him, but he was a type of Christ. The world saw him as disabled and poor…God came and reminded him of his identity and seat at the King’s table.
All in the Family
When we see people the way God sees them it makes inviting them in much much easier. If you think God is mad at them, you might be apt to not treat them like God but that is somebody that Jesus died for. God wants to adopt everybody into his family but many times we make judgments about people or are scared about how we may look if we associate ourselves with someone. God loves everybody and is inviting us all in to be a part of His family. He can’t force us though and that doesn’t mean all are saved. As Greg Henry said, just because you are beautiful to Him doesn’t mean you have eternal life. You can be beautiful to God and not be a possessor of life if you choose not to believe in Him.
The parables in Luke 15 show us the value God places on the one. In these passages we see the parable of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. It’s interesting to note why each of these are lost and what God seems to be saying through these parables. Sheep are not the brightest animals…they get lost because it’s in their nature to get lost. That is why they need a shepherd. The coin was lost because of circumstances. The son was lost because he wanted to be lost, it was his choice. God shows his concern for them all though. It’s like He’s saying I don’t care why they are lost or why they are the way the are…I have a spot for them in my family and I will seek to find them and persuade them of it. God’s family is the one in the Godhead which has been from the beginning with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is the table we have a seat at. Religion has no place for people who don’t conform to their ways, but God does.God’s fam from the beginning has been the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. This is the table we have a seat at. Click To Tweet
This is where the church comes in. The church is not supposed to be a place for perfect people, but an assembly of people coming together to worship God. The word church in the Greek is ecclesia, which means an assembly. All should feel welcome and all should experience genuine fellowship and love. Many churches today are doing like what James said and favoring the people with more money and nice clothes and giving them special seats, while paying no attention to the other people. The purpose of the church is not to get a bunch of people to do good things that make them look good so people will think we are nice, and then they will do what we tell them, so we can then build a big building and leave a great personal legacy. The church needs to be interested in helping people and bringing them into the Family, not serving a religious system.
I know it’s very hard for most churchgoers to change churches, even if they are not satisfied, so if that is the case with you, at least look around at the people in your church and see who might have some needs that are not being met. Ask God about it. I’ll bet there are many. In all fairness, the pastor and other leaders in the church can’t do everything, but I’ve heard from some people who went to big churches and said nobody even said hi to them for years. There are many hurting people out there, both churched and unchurched. You should never feel obligated to be doing certain things, but if you hang around God long enough, His love for others will rub off on you. Just sayin. No condemnation, I just want people to be aware of the situation we are in and how a little time spent with somebody can go a long way.
I hope this blog has deepened your understanding of God’s heart toward you. I know this can encourage many believers to keep going in their walk but also I feel like many who may not be church goers or consider themselves Christians to be drawn into the Family by reading this. If that is the case with you, I know it may seem scandalous but just keep talking to God about it. Invite Him into your heart and He will continue to persuade you of these truths. As always, feel free to let me know if you have any questions. I’ve provided a few more scriptures for you meditate on below and a movie scene to hopefully drive the point home some more as well. Thanks for stopping by. Y’all come back now ya heard.
…but God knows your hearts. What people value highly is detestable in God’s sight. – Luke 16:15 NIV.
Therefore the Lord waits [expectantly] and longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.[a]For the Lord is a God of justice; Blessed (happy, fortunate) are all those who long for Him [since He will never fail them]. – Isaiah 30:18 AMP
He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. 9 God will do this, for he is faithful to do what he says, and he has invited you into partnership with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. – 1 Cor. 1:8-9 NLT.
He makes the whole body fit together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love. – Eph. 4:15-16 NLT.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, – Eph. 2:19 NIV.
Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. – 1 Cor. 12:12 NIV.
So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. – Gal. 3:26-28 NIV.
Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. – Col. 3:11 NIV.
Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. – Col. 3:15 NIV.
Scene of the Week
Greg Henry recently mentioned this scene one of his sermons. The most famous line in the scene is the one where Jerry says “you complete me”. Many may not believe this, but when God dreams of the life he wants to have, it’s not complete without us. He desired to have someone he could share His life with. Jerry also says in this scene, “I won’t let you get rid of me”. I see God saying that to us as well. I know I have thrown my hands in the air and said I can’t do this anymore many of times, only to find God still pursuing me anyways. He is relentless in His pursuit of us. The link to the scene is below. Watch it if you have a chance and picture God saying these things to you.