Monday, April 4, 2011

Not a Village But a Church

A few years ago, First Lady Hillary Clinton stirred up a bit of a controversy by declaring “It takes a village to raise a child.”

Controversy or not, she wasn’t all wrong.

It doesn’t take a village, but it does take a church.

The Christian Family is created by God the Father Almighty.

It flows out of the ultimate relationship – the Holy Trinity. The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are the perfect family relationship model.

God the Father creates us. You know the story – God created all things in six days and the crown of His creation of humans. He created Adam and then out of Adam God created Eve. Adam was created out of the dust of the earth and the breath of God in him. Eve was created out of Adam’s side or rib. Not out of Adam’s head that she should be head over him, not out of Adam’s foot that he should tread all over her. God created Eve out of Adam’s rib that they should walk side-by-side together through this life – as a family.

Jesus Christ came thousands of years later to fulfill all prophecy. When the human race fell into sin, a savior was needed. Jesus Christ is that savior. He was born, lived the perfect life, and suffered and died to save us from our sins. Jesus spent about three years with a group of people, in a relationship with what could be described as His family. In fact, that exactly how Jesus described this group.

46While he was still speaking to the people, behold, his mother and his brothers stood outside, asking to speak to him. 48But he replied to the man who told him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" 49And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! 50For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." – Matthew 12:116-50

After Jesus rose from the dead, He said that the Holy Spirit would come. Ten days after Jesus’ ascension in heaven, the Holy Spirit came with power to the disciples on the Day of Pentecost. That is the day that is celebrated as the “Birthday of the Church.”

The Church is not a building; it isn’t a philosophy, or some ethereal concept. The Church is flesh and blood people. The church is a family.

Read through the Book of Acts and the Epistles of St. Paul and others and you will see a family that rejoices together, cries and is sad together, and helps those who need help together.

Unfortunately, as the Church grew bigger and bigger, and the Empire of Rome got smaller and smaller, the Church changed from family to a world power and government.

The concept of “family” might still have been there, but the structure was not in place anymore to actually live as a family. Some parents sent their children to “the Church” to learn and grow. But it wasn’t the same as having a group of people who love each other take care of each other and assist in the developing of the next generation.

Today we are at a crucial point in the world’s history where the Church is needed more than ever before – the original Church as family.

When all the world seems to sink into chaos, there will be only one thing that will stand these tests of time.

Jesus said, “on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18). “This rock” refers to the faith of Peter and the rest of the disciples that was given them by the Holy Spirit. Given to us, as well, through our baptisms and strengthened through Word and Sacrament.

When the Church became the dominant political force in the world, the family-void left behind was filled by other things.

One of those things was the military. Stories abound of groups of men who found themselves in grave situations but banded together to survive.

Because the church had advocated its God-given role to be the extended family of people, others filled the void. But because they are not God-instituted and ordained fellowships like the Holy Christian Church, they are inadequate to fill that role.

Proverbs 18:24 says, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.” That friend is Jesus Christ. And Jesus has called us to be part of larger fellowship – the Christian family!

A word of caution needs to be said here. It has been my experience that many people have turned to the Church to raise their children, but have not been truly a part of the family. This, in my opinion, is just as detrimental as turning to the government or the military or other entity to fill the void of family in a child’s life.

If you look at the beginning of a Luther’s Small Catechism, you will see words written there that –when taken to heart and put into practice – will change your child’s life, your life, and the life of the Church Family.

At the beginning of five of the six chief parts of Christian doctrine, it says, “As the head of the family should teach them in a simple way to his household.”

Our Church Family, then, begins in the home!

When True Men Ministries started six years ago, it was because families were in desperate need of finding a way of bringing back God’s Will for them. God has a dream for our families.

Part of that dream is that mom and dad should be present and the integral part of raising the family. All depends on this.

Dads, Fathers, Papas, Daddies, Pops – whatever you call him or yourself – you are vitally needed in your home. In fact, the Church Family starts right in the home.

Young children need their moms and dads in their lives. A mother gives birth and nurtures and feeds a newborn. A person’s first exposure to love and care is through their mother! Take that away and a newborn will not thrive.

As a son or daughter grows older, they continue to look to their moms and dads for the answers to the questions they have. “Am I beautiful?” “Am I going to make a good wife or husband someday?” “Do I have what it takes?”

The vast majority of broken homes in this world are missing the dad who can answer these questions like no one else can.

A mom and dad that can tell – and show – their sons and daughters that they love them and will always love them will begin to restore the Church Family to the place that God intended it to be.

You see, the Church begins in the home with mom and dad! Fathers are the “High Priest of the home,” as one pastor puts it. He is the one who is specially called by God to be His representative to his family. And mothers walk along side their husbands in carrying out that role:

5You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. – Deuteronomy 6:5-9

What happens in church on Sunday mornings actually begins in the home. The Church Family actually begins in the home. There is a movement today among new church starts to go to a model of the “house church.” This, I believe, is an attempt to capture this truth.

But we don’t have to tear down our current church structures. What we can do is simple – bring back the family altar to our homes. Set aside time for your family to eat together, talk together, have a daily devotion together, and pray together.

If we can set aside time in our busy schedules, as a family, to eat, talk, devote and pray together – it will do three things:

1. Change our home life for the better;

2. Change your churches in to the rock-solid foundation that people need;

3. Change our world.

What do you think? Leave your comments!

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