January 24, 2012

I have been thinking a lot about family in recent days. My daughter and her three young ones have been in our home for the longest period of time since she began birthing babies. Our wonderful son-in-law could not be with us due to the demands of his work schedule. We had fun. I found out yet again that God knows what He is doing when He designed women for childbirth at a young age and men to be fathers at the same age. I am not supposed to be getting up in the middle of the night to take care of children; what gets me up in the middle of the night can be taken care of much more quickly than what children require!

I drove my daughter back to her home in Cleveland last Tuesday and then spent until Friday in her home. It was on our return trip that I shared with her what I share with you. I wanted to see how much if any she shared with me of what I believe the Bible teaches about family. It begins for the believer with the reality that once we are adopted into the family of God, we have a new first family of priority and purpose. That family is the church with whom we gather for worship and among whom we live out our primary purpose for being on the planet which is to praise the name of our great God by being witnesses together of His glorious Gospel. When Jesus’ family came to get Him because the world was after Him and His mom thought he needed some good home-cooking He would teach them and us that family is defined first by the gathering of those who do the will of God. I told my daughter that. I asked her if that is what she believed that family for believers is not defined first biologically but is defined first biblically. If that is not true, then nobody would ever leave their home area to go anywhere at all to do anything for the cause of the Gospel. If we believe biology is the first definition of family then we clutch our children and even want them close to us when they are grown. That is bad enough but what is worse is that such an approach means that we are conforming Scripture to our understanding rather than letting our understanding be transformed by Scripture.

There is a second thing that I shared with my daughter. God calls a man to leave behind or to let go or to forsake his father and mother and give himself completely to his wife so that he with his wife and whatever children or not God gives them constitutes a family unit. It is this family under the auspices of the family of God embodied in the church that is most important. Whatever relationship that family has with extended family as in the husband’s parents and grandparents or the wife’s parents and grandparents is to be prayerfully determined by the husband and wife in a way that does not impede the husband and wife shaping the substance and essence of their own family. This is too me profoundly biblical and critically necessary. Anne and I were married on December 10, 1972 but only began to learn what marriage is when we were separated by 500 plus miles from all other family. God knows what He is doing when He calls us to leave and cleave. So I encouraged my daughter to think in terms of church family and family as her wonderful husband and three children so that God can form them the way He wants them to be and from there they can choose how they relate to the rest of us. She agreed. Do you?