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The Household of God

The Household of God

I had many interesting conversations with people this year and one happened while I was camping on the Oregon Coast in July.  A couple was walking by our camping site where 50 happy Christians were eating and enjoying each other’s company.  They asked me if this was some sort of family camping trip, and I told them, “No, but most people here are from either a congregation I attend or from another congregation”.  The lady then said, “Oh, the family you want to be with”.  That statement really struck me.  Yes, I have heard about the family get-togethers where halfway through the week people are offended, leaving, airing all their grievances, saying unkind and foolish things because the alcohol is kicking in. One rule of thumb in camping is that if you are a mess, then your site will probably be a mess.  If your life is together, then the space you occupy will be together.  

So Why Does the Church Work?

The Bible does speak of the church as the family or household of God (1 Timothy 3:15). 

God is at the Center: Acts 20:28

Now, God is expected to be at the center of a physical family as well.  God designed marriage between one man and one woman and it was expected to be a lifelong relationship (Matthew 19:4-6).  In this relationship the husband was expected to protect and nourish his wife and she was expected to honor and support him through the difficulties of life (Ephesians 5:22ff).  This is the relationship in which children were to be born and then taught about God (Ephesians 6:1-4).  Yet, when God is removed from the center of the family  then everything can quickly fall apart.  For years people knew that such a structure was the best way to do it, yet in recent times the culture has tried to float the myth that all sorts of other alternatives work just as good, or even better.  That you do not need God at the center, or you do not need a father or mother, or you do not need the commitment required by marriage.

Designed to Build Up and Not Tear Down

  • “We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone” (1 Thessalonians 5:14).

A Protective Environment

  • “Take care, brethren, that there not be in anyone of you an evil, unbelieving heart, that falls away from the living God.  But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called Today” (Hebrews 3:12-13).
  • “Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble…See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and but it many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:12,14).

Moral Expectations

  • “Therefore, laying aside falsehood, speak truth each one of you with his neighbor, for we are members of one another.  Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity” (Ephesians 4:25-27).
  • “Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God” (2 Corinthians 7:1).
  • “Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices” (Colossians 3:9-10).

In fact, in this family, the determination to remain in sin, removes you from the family (1 Corinthians 5:9-10).  You are not allowed to continue to corrupt, tear down or discourage the other members of the family as you indulge in your selfishness (1 Corinthians 5:7 “Clean out the old leaven”; “That no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:15).

One Common Standard

This is a relationship where everyone commits to the same Lord and to the same standard of truth:

  • “That you all agree and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment”                     (1 Corinthians 1:10).
  • “There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:4-6)

All are Expected to Be Involved

  • “From whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:16).

This is not a family in which mom and dad, just mom, or grandma and granddad do all the work.

At Peace with God

Before we are added to this relationship by the Lord (Acts 2:47; Colossians 1:13-14), we must first acknowledge our sins, own up to the evil we have caused and get ourselves right with our Creator.  Thus everyone who comes into this family is already at peace with God (Mark 16:16).  If I am right with God, then I can be right with others.  Or, if I have peace with God, then I have the ability or capacity to be at peace in my other relationships.

  • “And He came and preached peace to you were far away, and peace to those who are near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father.  So then you are not longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household” (Ephesians 2:17-18).  

An Application:  I Feel a Little Uncomfortable

There are times that people shy away from the family of God because they might say something like, “I feel somewhat intimidated or maybe even judged (even no one really says anything negative to me)”.  So let me address that:

  • The Good News: There is a better way of doing that.

If others are doing something better than you are, do not consider that a negative.  Rather, such is a chance to learn, because life should be continual improvement, “But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more” (1 Thessalonians 4:10).   Someone noted that one of the most important aspects of life is course correction, and course correction that is not slow and over 20 years (which is not course correction), but immediate and quick (Luke 19:8).  Being among people who have it together gives us the opportunity to continually improve the quality of our lives and relationships.  So do not resent when you run into Christians who are better organized, manage their time better, maybe are better at keeping to a budget, better prepared for bible study, are more on top of their own spiritual growth, than you are.  Such is an opportunity to simply improve.  In fact, the skills that they are manifesting, they learned from others, and then added to their lives. 

There is nothing to be embarrassed about when you realize that someone is doing something better than you are.  What is embarrassing is to dig in your heels, stick to your old ways that are not working, refuse to learn the lesson, and simply remain as you are.  Also, when you run into people who are doing it better than you are, rejoice!  Be glad that people are succeeding.  Rejoice that God’s principles are working in the lives of your brethren.  Be encouraged that there are answers, solutions , ways and methods that work and that you never have to settle for a mediocre life, marriage, family, bible knowledge, hope, or prayer life. 

Mark Dunagan/