Friday, July 05, 2013

Balance in Christ

At Family Camp, pastor Duane Garner delivered several sermons on various aspects of the biblical family. He did an excellent job. The sermons were recorded and will be available and I recommend them to you. I think his sermons were timely and sparked some thoughts that are pertinent for us here at Providence Church.
         There is always a risk in any movement of getting out of balance. In one sense we at Providence Church are part of a movement. That is not all bad. Our movement, if you will, includes a return to the old paths in many things and putting a new twist on old things in other ways.
         Our emphasis has been on Worship. Our primary goal is to glorify God in every area of our lives. We believe that this glory is foremost revealed and then reflected by the gathering of the saints in corporate worship. Nothing that we do or say is more important than what happens in our churches every Lord’s Day. So, renewing covenant with God and with one another on a weekly basis is absolutely foundational to everything else that we do. What we are doing right now, Sunday morning, is the most important hour and a half of your week. It calibrates every other part of what you do and more importantly, who you are. You are the body of Christ.
         I hope that we have been consistent on our emphases on corporate worship as the foundational aspect of our lives together. We are the worshipping people of God.
         Sometimes our other emphases become dominant and our priorities are not clear. We emphasize the importance of marriage, of children and of families. We emphasize the importance of Christian Education, whether at home or through delegating to Christian teachers at Christian schools.
         If we are not careful, the emphases of family or education can trump the emphasis on Worship in the local church. If this happens, then we are in danger of erecting idols that must fall like Dagon before the Ark of the Covenant.
         How do we do this? How do we erect idols as we seek to reform our lives? I am going to suggest several ways in which we are in danger of inverting our priorities.  I expect to step on many toes as I do so. Let me assure you that I have also stubbed my own toes in the process. This is a corrective that we all need and so I pray that the Holy Spirit would open our ears and our hearts.
         Before I talk about ways in which we are tempted to get out of balance and erect idols, I want to establish biblically where our first priorities should be.
         In the passage that I read, Jesus clearly teaches that the will of the Father in Heaven is more important than family members. While family loyalties should be strong, it is important that we get the priority straight right in the beginning of our Christian pilgrimage. The will of the Father in the revelation of Jesus Christ trumps every other loyalty that might exist. This is true of the loyalty between parents and children, between husbands and wives, or between any other familial relationship.
         In saying this, we need to understand that there are relationships that trump our bloodlines. Those relationships are the ones with Jesus and His people. At Family Camp, Pastor Garner quoted somebody as saying that for we Christians, "Water is thicker than blood", talking about the waters of baptism. Blood is our birth line. Water is our re-birth line.
         It is most glorious when your blood line and your water lines are one and the same, but if they are not, then your fundamental loyalties should lie with those in whom you are washed in the water and washed in the blood of the Lamb.
We need to understand that those who belong to Jesus are more fundamentally our family than those who were birthed from our mother or even those who were created from our loins or the wombs of our wives. Your relationships with God’s people in Christ are more fundamental even than your relationship to your own father and mother.
Jesus clearly teaches this in Matthew.
         Matt. 12:46   While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him.  47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee.  48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

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