October 5, 2016
So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone,
and especially to those who are of the household of faith. Galatians 6:10
Two to three decades ago television viewers were treated to a number of highly rated family shows with clever titles that conveyed more than one meaning. If you raised your children then, or were being raised then, you recall how the shows connected with issues in your family. But they still ring true now twenty to thirty years later for a different reason: they mirror concerns facing the church family as well.
In Family Ties, much of the comedy arose from the different political and economic views between the parents and their children. The Keatons navigated the inter-generational differences. with understanding and patience. Successful churches learn to do likewise as they energize their traditions and the wisdom of experience with the zeal and optimism of youth.
Family Matters (both noun and verb) gave us Steve Urkel, the nerd next door who could be low on common sense and social skills, but scored highly on sincerity and genuine care. Every congregation has a few Steves to nudge them out of their comfort zone and to see things from a different angle. The Winslow family’s acceptance of Steve showed that family is not just who you are related to, but who matters to you.
Step-by-Step showed us the classic blended family, bringing together youth and adults who grew with different backgrounds and experiences. They learned to understand and accept each other as brothers and sisters who shared the same Lambert family name. In our church family growth in spirit and number requires openness to those different from us. For in our shared baptism, we are all adopted into one name: Jesus. We are the ultimate blended family, as Paul wrote of the Gentiles’ relationship to the Jews. “In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ”. Eph. 2:13
Home Improvement wasn’t about improving the house or the car, but the Taylor family. They learned that “more power” was not always the answer, but rather serving and listening to one another. This usually happened when Tim, the head of the household, sought the guidance of his mentor, the half-hidden neighbor Wilson who peered over the back yard fence. Likewise, Church Improvement happens when leaders seek the wisdom of God, partially visible in Christ, who shares His Word and Spirit with all who ask.
Like program titles above, the title of this article also has another meaning. The Christian family shows—it shows up. Whether it’s your home or church family, its members are there for each other in time of need. When there is work to do and sacrifices to make, the family shows up to pitch and get it done. Anything that works in your family do in your church; and if it doesn’t work in your family, don’t imagine that it will work in your church.
Human nature being what it is, we always have the same needs, and all relationships play by the same rules. Christ sacrificed himself to save all people and to heal all relationships. His Spirit gathers and keeps us as the household of God, the family of faith. Regularly worship with the saints, meditate on the Word, pray through Christ, and feast on His sacrament. By doing so we can improve our family ties, step by step, because Family matters.