Do you remember the old Gaither song, “I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God”? If so, are you? Are you “so glad” you are a part of the family of God? Please know, I love Jesus and I love Jesus’ people. But there are some distant relatives in God’s family whose behavior, words and/or posts on social media make me less than “so glad”? If Bill and Gloria could rewrite the ditty in 2020, in lieu of those attitudes and actions I wonder if they would pen, “I’m so sad I’m a part of the family of God”? Am I permitted to tell you, “Sometimes, I’m deeply saddened by the attitudes and actions taken by my cousins in the family of God?
I’m not so glad when some fellow family of God members who ought to know better; have been in Sunday school their whole life; and sat through (and theoretically not snored through) their fair share of sermons, still don’t get it. They treat one another badly. Are mean, rude, angry or arrogant. Have a “me first” attitude. Get their cues from news channels and social media instead of the Bible. Those things don’t make me “so glad.”
Pastoring has never been tougher in my 30 years in the ministry. Most church folks are great, but some in the family of God are like a weird second cousin twice removed. They think they can bully and threaten to “take their tithe” to the church down the street if the pastor doesn’t capitulate to their version of the way things ought to be (I didn’t realize bribing God was an option). Every pastor I know has had an “I quit” letter, phone call or conversation. One week, years ago, I had an “I quit” conversation with a family because the church was too liberal, and a different “I quit” conversation because that family thought the church was too conservative. Same week! It really upset me. Many pastors are having those conversations every week these days. When the family of God seems more like the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s, I’m not so glad to be a part of it.
I’m not sure if it’s the pandemic, isolation caused by the pandemic, parents stressed from their kid’s virtual learning during the pandemic, racial unrest, election year politics or if all of the above has created this mess. Maybe it’s just plain old fashioned, garden variety carnality. I just know the family of God is suffering. Sometimes I think we are heading for divorce court. Can you divorce your family?
Who’s kidding who? I’m old. For me even if the family of God seems more like the Adam’s Family than Leave it to Beaver (proof of my “oldness” is in those two classic TV references), I’m not going anywhere. You’re my family, weird second cousins twice removed and all. It’s not me, I’m worried about. It’s our kiddos who are watching Christians behaving badly. It’s our grandkids who are hearing over the continuous drone of the news channel how terrible the pastor is or the music leader or youth worker. It’s the non-Christian co-workers who listen to the vile talk, gossip or justification of blatant sinfulness from people who claim Jesus on Sunday but apparently forget about Him the rest of the week.
Dear brothers and sisters, joint heirs with Jesus as we travel this sod (Excuse me, Bill and Gloria, I know it rhymes with “God,” but… “travels this sod”? If you’re going to re-write the song, could you re-write that line too? Sorry, I digress). Let’s start acting like the family of God again. Love one another. Care for one another. Forgive one another. Bear each other’s burdens. Our kids, grandkids and the world is watching. Let’s not give the devil any help in leading our young adults to exits of the church. Let’s make the family of God something to be glad to be a part of once again!