On Sunday I mentioned a phrase that Dani and I really like a lot, “family is revival.” I think I first heard it in an IRIS Nashville podcast, or from Jonathan David Helser, but whoever coined the phrase is brilliant. Family (intergenerational connectedness and care) is revival (the Kingdom coming in a powerfully manifest way).
When God wanted to reveal Himself as “Father” to His people, He sent His son. But before Jesus came on scene, God sent John the Baptizer to “turn the hearts of the fathers in tenderness to their children.” A physical restoration of family and fatherhood preceded the greatest revelation of God’s character in history – unity was a necessary prerequisite for the Lord’s appearing. That is pretty heavy.
But here is the point of this post – family isn’t restricted to biology. I know lots of great moms who have never physically birthed children (and aren’t even married). Who cares? They are life-giving, nurturing, loving women who take care of people well – that counts as “mom” in my book. Then there are the foster/adoptive families – they may not be genetically related, but they are still family.
In the Kingdom, “family” is a much bigger and more glorious concept than what we’ve typically believed it to be in the States. Family is all generations, all ethnicities, and all backgrounds loving one another the way Jesus loves us. That sort of selfless, sacrificial, barrier-destroying love is what the Kingdom of Our Father is all about. It is a love that heals, redeems and purifies.
Family is revival. When the Church starts caring for itself as a family things will shift in powerful ways. Moms and dads, brothers and sisters, parents and children don’t always agree, but disagreement should never squelch affection or threaten connection. Thank God family isn’t based on agreement!
What would it looks like for the Church to love itself like it did in the book of Acts? What would it look like for those with multiple homes to sell them and lay the proceeds at the feet of the leadership and say, “This is for anyone in our community who has need”? What would it look like for the Church to bear one another’s financial burdens and help each member work themselves out of debt? What would it look like for the Church to commit to fostering and adopting every child who needed it, no questions asked? That sounds radical and big, almost too much to imagine, but what sort of witness would that be to the world?
If we claim God is Our Father, why do we act like orphans so often? Why do we bicker and squabble? Why do we tear one another down? Why do we think someone else has to fail so we can succeed? Why do we fear there will never be enough? Why do we think we need to police and punish instead of Dad?
What if unity actually is a prerequisite to a move of God? Not the namby pamby sort of unity based on doctrinal belief and dogmatic association, but the nitty gritty devotion of covenantal love?
What if God has millions of people on the verge of salvation, but He is waiting to bring them in until He knows they will be loving cared for and thoughtfully placed into families?
My desire is to see the Church (and specifically my congregation) grow increasingly diverse in every sense. God is the Father of a huge blended family, wouldn’t it be neat if each pocket of believers reflected that?
As far as I can tell, the world doesn’t have good answers for the problems of racial tension, bridging socio-economic gaps, curing injustice or eliminating poverty – but at least they are trying. What if we showed them a different Way – the Way of Jesus? If the Church Transformed and filled with Love can’t offer better solutions to these problems than the world can… then shoot, I think we’re kidding ourselves and the Gospel of God’s Kingdom Come isn’t such good news after all.
I have no master plan for sweeping national changes – I don’t trust such plans in any case. Transformation, true and long lasting transformation, always begins at home – in this case, literally. Loving one another well – that is my goal, that is what I want to see the Church do. Let’s make that our first step and see what happens – we’ll probably be surprised with the result.