Friday, November 4, 2011

Out of the Mouth of Babes



My five year-old came bounding into my bathroom Monday morning with a paper waving wildly in his hands, all the while exclaiming, "Mommy I typed out a Bible verse for you!  It's Philippians 4:1 and it is an important verse!"  I read it, while stroking his hair, amazed at his pastoral care for his mommy and after thanking him asked for tape so I could post it on my bathroom mirror.  I looked at it several times that day, reflecting on it's admonishment to stand firm in the Lord.

Later that day, after harshly speaking to the boys about getting water all over the bathroom, he reminded of the verse on the mirror, saying, "Mom, remember Philippians 4:1, it will help you!  It says, 'my brothers' and you're my brother and everything will be ok."  Out of the mouth of babes.  Yes we are brothers in the Lord.  And yes, everything will be ok.


How often are we taught that our believing children, husbands, parents, siblings, in-laws, etc., are primarily our brothers and sisters in Christ?  We read books and hear sermons and attend workshops on how to relate to one another horizontally and we focus on the obvious verses:  wives respect your husbands, children honor your father and mother, parents teach your children while you walk in the way, etc.  Therefore, it appears that the majority of verses that admonish us in how we relate to one another, especially in New Testament writings, are applied to our relationships with people outside of our blood relations. 


But who are my mother and brothers?  As Christ said in Mark 3:33-35, those who do the will of my Father in Heaven.  This INCLUDES my believing husband and children and parents, which means ALL those verses about our relationship with the saints apply to how I treat my blood family as well.

I often take my spiritual temperature by how I am acting around the saints at church, coworkers, or people in the world in a variety of situations, but these people are acquaintances, or at best, friends I go on playdates with.  I am virtually untouched emotionally by these people - they don't rattle my cage enough for my nice little mask to come unglued. But my close family and the few intimate friends I have, have glimpsed, even gazed long at the grotesque monster under my mask.  Who is that grotesque monster?  Where in the world did she come from?  That can't be ME?  Ah, but it IS me - the me in my raw sinful state who exposes my entitlements and my demands for all that I deserve from these people who rub against me most acutely. Why do I act so evilly toward those or in the presence of those I'm most comfortable with?

These are the people that challenge every area of my heart.  God has placed them there to not just rub some edges a little softer, but in His hands, He uses them and circumstances in my life to actually mold me into a NEW creation.  Perhaps beautifying that grotesque monster.  All the verses I think apply to all others besides my immediate family, also apply to how I treat my believing family members as well.  When Ephesians 3:2-3 says, "Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.  Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace," does that only apply to those outside my four walls of safety that I rub up against?  It applies to how I relate with ALL believers - that includes my husband, children, parents, siblings, et al.

In pondering this paradigm, I appease myself by thinking, well then, I just need to serve my family, even when they wound me or choose not to meet my needs.  I need to be humble and gentle and patient.  And this is true, but King David takes it a step further....Psalm 16:3 says, "As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones in whom is all my delight."  Delight?  Delight????  It's not just enough to "serve" them I must delight in them?  That raises the stakes.  That means that when I'm pained by those close to me and all the saints at church I avoid for fear of being cornered with information and circumstances I don't feel like dealing with, I am not only to live peaceably with them, in one mind and spirit, I am to DELIGHT in them.

Delight means "a high degree of pleasure or enjoyment; joy; rapture."  I definitely feel these emotions much of the time with my husband, children, good friends, certain foods and entertainment and accolades.  But then I consider brothers and sisters in my community and around the world and those whom I avoid or have been deeply wounded by or feel anxiety when confronted with their presence and think, how I can I feel enraptured by these saints?

As David says, the saints are the excellent ones.  This includes me and all believers.  WE are the excellent ones.  We are greatly rescued, dearly loved, and currently, even today, being conformed to the likeness of Christ.  We are excellent because we are Christ's, not because we are lovable, talented, clever, or cool and popular-types.  That means with all those I am covenanted with in Christ - my blood relations, in-laws or church family - I am challenged, maybe even defeated, by David's words to go beyond duty and service to delighting in them.  

Can I do it?  Not in my own strength nor in the current state in which I am, but I pray as the saints serve to rub me into another shape altogether: Christ using His saints to help in conforming me to His image,  may I dare to delight in the saints.  May I live peaceably in my own home with my husband and children and believing relations.  May I apply, God helping me, all scripture to all of life and to my relationships with those who are the saints.  When Paul in Galatians 6 admonishes the one who is spiritual to help restore with gentleness him who was caught in a sin, may I apply that to my children, not just to an unnamed believer.  How often to do I "catch" my children in sin as opposed to those I only see for 2 hours on Sunday?  Oh my - restore them with gentleness several times a day?

 
My brothers and sisters live with me, one even sleeps in my bed.  May I grow in delight in them as well as in all my brothers and sisters in Christ in my city and around the world.  Soli Deo Gloria!