1 Corinthians 4:15-16 Even though you have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me.
God indeed never misses a trick, knowing the end from the beginning. He knew what I would be hearing at the conference that started yesterday, and He planned this passage for today, causing me to choose the topic of love many months ago and arranging that this passage came up today. The speaker yesterday was emphasizing that a church isn’t a company, but rather a family, and he talked about how we don’t choose our family members, and neither do we discard them or give up on them. I had been thinking I wanted to share that in a message to our church, but I didn’t know from which passage to start. And here we are! Family relationships aren’t always smooth. We are closer to some members of our biological families than to others. However, that doesn’t change the fact that they are family! As Paul pointed out, the command (in the 10 Commandments) to honor our father and mother is the first one that includes a promise. (Ephesians 6:2-3) There are of course wide variations among people, and some of them seem far more worthy of honor than others. Frankly, there’s no one alive who hasn’t done some things that might be unworthy of honor. However, that doesn’t change the commandment. Individual churches are very different, and being in a church isn’t quite the same as being in a family, but the speaker yesterday stressed that a church isn’t just not a company, it is especially not a restaurant, but many people treat it that way. They go where they like the menu! “Hmm. Today I feel like Chinese food.” That’s no way to have spiritual growth! The more we realize that we are family, in many different senses, the more we will mature and grow, in many different ways.
This is especially close to home for me, because as a pastor over the years I have had spiritual children who still honor me as “Daddy Jack,” though they are geographically far away and it’s been many years, and I have had spiritual children, even ones I have baptized, who have discarded me and don’t honor me at all. I have had those who have gone through periods of rebellion, but have since come to respect and even love me. In turn, I have had spiritual children I would love to have close to me forever, and I have had spiritual children I would be just as happy not to be bothered with again. As the speaker yesterday was saying, I’m not to give up on anyone, even if they give up on me! God is the Father of us all, and Jesus is our Big Brother, (Romans 8:29) so I am to operate as a mentally and spiritually healthy member of the Family of God.
Father, thank You for this marvelously confirming Word. May I not only communicate it effectively on Sunday, but also live it out faithfully day by day. May I be the son, husband, father, and brother You want me to be to each of the various people with whom You have connected me, building them up and drawing them closer to You, for their blessing and Your glory. Thank You. Praise God!