Wednesday, April 24, 2013

One Question That Can Change Your Family

In part one of Future Family we established that you cannot pick your family, you cannot change the past, and that there are no good examples of a healthy family in the Old Testament. We discovered how Jesus sets a very high bar or ideal what the perfect family looks like, then there is the reality of what our family is. Therefore there is always tension between the ideal and the real. We live in a culture that wants us to get rid of the tension by wanting to normalize everything so it changes the rules.
We live in a culture that wants to give everyone a participation trophy.  Kids get a trophy, reward, for basically doing nothing. First place and last place are treated equally, that's not sporting competition. We think we are helping our children and the reality is the children know they are meaningless. They know they got them for doing nothing, they know they didn’t win, and they just throw them away.
 Now that my little rant is over with, we also said each of us what the ideal for our children despite of the tension. Jesus makes this tension, rises the bar and says when you live in this tension between perfect and real, when thing called life hits, you’ll fall short and I will forgive you, love you, but I don’t ever want you to give up on the ideal or perfect.  Jesus says I never ever want you to give up on the pursuit of ideal when it comes to you family, your faith and your relationships.
 If we give up on trying for the perfect we will lose. You may be thinking sure but dude you don’t know my family. That’s true but I don’t want you to lose sight of the high standard God wants us to shot for. We said there are no good examples of family in the Old Testament and we said the New Testaments when it speaks of family basically says: wives submit to your husbands, men love your wives, children obey your parents, and parents don’t exasperate your children.
One of the most controversial, politically incorrect, most misused, misunderstood, bible verse when it comes to family is Ephesians 5:22 What we need to understand is that Jesus on his time on planet earth more than anything else talked, preached, and taught about the principles of love. He said it’s the greatest commandment. Jesus said love is the driving force behind everything. Peter and Paul mission was to figure out how to take the teachings and principles of love Jesus taught us and apply them to this new concept of family. It had never been done before. In a time when whoever holds the power makes the rules. Some could say it is like that today. But before Jesus, it was Rome, before that it was the Greeks, before that it was Egypt and Pharaoh. Before Jesus whoever had the power dictated what was right and what was wrong. Jesus comes along and turns it upside down. He says actually if you have power you are to use to it help the powerless and that you should lever your power for all the people. Brand new idea that Peter and Paul says how can we take this concept of love and power and apply it to the family. So Paul takes this idea or principle about love and breaks it down for the whole family. When we hear these verses we need to remember that this is a general vital principle directed towards everyone but Paul address women, then men, then children, then parents.

Ephesians 21& 22: 21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.
22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 

       What I hear all the time is usually by men who say, “Look right there, the Bible says wives submit to your husbands.”  I usually respond with, first read verse 21 again. Then 22 it says wives. Paul is talking to the wives, he ain’t talking to men, and you need to pay attention later on. Verse 21: Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. Submit to one another, out of reverence for Christ.  Paul first is talking to everyone. The overall principle of love, for every follower of Jesus, every church goer, every family member, the overall principle that everyone should follow is to submit to one another.  Paul breaks it down to each family member but everyone is to submit. It is called mutual submission. It is mutual submission not out of reverence to one another, because let’s be honest, sometime our family members, sometimes we are not worth being revered or honored.
So what does submission mean? To submit means I am going to leverage my power, leverage my time, leverage my gifts, and leverage my money for your benefit. Whiter I am the father, mother, husband, wife, child, Aunt, Uncle, grand parent, great grandparent, cousin, I am going to look for ways to help you with your burden out of my reverence to Christ. Because that is what Jesus did for me. Jesus died for us; Jesus made us his number one priority. In the upper room that night, when Jesus realized he possessed all the power of God, he washed their feet. That was his example of the submission.
In my opinion this is the single most powerful dynamic principle there is. When a family, congregation, neighborhood, when someone says, I’m going to loan you my power, my influence, my time, my money, my experience, my education for your benefit. When everyone begins to do that, it is the most dynamic powerful principle that will do amazing things. It was modeled for us by Jesus. But we live in the real world where we have this humanistic desire to control things. The message and concept of mutual submission is I am here for you don’t matter where I am in the family but I am here to leverage all I have and all I am for your benefit. No one in this family is more important than anyone else.
So you want happiness, peace, joy, love and good times in your family? It’s all about mutual submission. It comes down to one simple question. You can change your whole family dynamics with six simple words. “What can I do to help?” 
 If everyone in your family asks this simple question to everyone else once a day, you would not imagine how things will change. It is saying I am offering all I am for all you need. I am loaning you me.
If you ask this question, it will always prevent the conversation from going negative. Life is busy, but to pause and say I am here for you how can I help means everything. When we ask most of the time, the person will say, nothing. That is ok because by asking this simple question you are saying loudly, I am aware of your burden. I am aware you are stressed. I am not trying to interfere but if there is anything I can do to lessen your load, your burden a bit, I’m here. It will transform your family.
So why don’t we ask this simple question?  One word: fear. Especially kids because you will be out raking leaves or washing the car. We fear that someone is going to take advantage of us. We fear they will say Yes and it will take us away from what we want to do. But remember the last part: out of reverence of Christ.” Jesus looked down at this planet earth full of pain, suffering, brokenness, shame and regret and said, “What can I do to help?” . The father said, “you don’t want to know.” Jesus replied, “No! What can I do to help?” God said, “It will cost you your life.” Jesus said, “I can do that.” God says, “you will have to go down there and put every single persons needs and wants before yours.” Jesus said, “I can do that.” So Paul says out of reverence, honor, love, appreciation of Jesus Christ open up your time, talents, money, education, experiences for someone else. Yes, they may take advantage of us, yes we may not get everything done we want to get done, but welcome to becoming followers of Jesus. Because Jesus did that for you and 99.9% of the time, when you do that for a family member, it will not cost you your life just a little time, little money, little energy, little sweat, and a little frustration. We fear this but the thing this question threatens is the key to having a great family. Do you know what makes great families? Do you know what makes happy families? Asking this question, even with fear, says I am trading a me for an us. You know what it would do to your heart and soul if everyone or someone in your family asked, “what can I do to help?” You know how it would make you feel and you have the same potential to make them feel that same way but you don’t because you are selfish. Selfish meaning you will never give all you are to the family because your definition of a happy family is if I can just get everyone to do exactly what I want them to do, I’ll be happy. No you won’t. You’ll be large and in change but you will not be happy. When you ask this question it forces you to lean into the family instead of pulling away. Because if it is only a one way street and people lean in, ask the question, you don’t reciprocate, you pull away, they will pull away. Everyone will pull away and you have something but it won’t be a family.
      The key word is mutual. If you want control and don’t reciprocate, they will pull away, become disconnected, resentful, and miserable and will leave either emotionally or physically because you don’t get happiness out of controlling the people around you. You get happy when you loan yourself out to people like Jesus did for you.  Happy is not control. Jesus said the more power you have, the more you should be asking the question, “what can I do to help?” because we want people leaning in not pulling away.
Wither we are talking about our biological family or our faith family ask this question at the          appropriate time. Don’t come out of the bathroom 30 minutes later after all the dishes are done and the kitchen is clean up and ask, “What can I do to help?”  It’s never going to be ideal but the         more we ask the better timing we will have. 
Here is some tension. If you want to witness my head exploding, wither it is with you my faith family or my biological family, I say this out of tension, are individuals who offer their criticism, who offer their critique, who freely offer their opinion and suggestion but do not offer their assistance. Do you know why this upsets me so because not only is it disrespectful and hurtful because you have acknowledged that you see me struggling but instead of offering help you critics my struggles.
There is nothing more dehumanizing in the world but more importantly there is nothing farther from the teachings of Jesus.
The last thing you must, must, allow someone who offers to help, to help.
Those of us who want to be in control, we don’t want help. When no one helps, we can then stomp off to our reservation for our own pity party.  But when someone leans in, over comes their fear, embrace it, except it, and understand you are allowing them the privilege of serving you in honor of Christ.Say it out loud: “What can I do to help?”
Say to those in your family, even if at first you don’t mean it. Because when you want to ask it the least, is when you need to ask it the most…

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