There are only a few words that people hear that evoke automatic feelings. The word “Family” is one of those words. Your childhood, prior life events, and relationships shape whether this word has a positive or negative connotation. It is of my opinion that “family” is one of God’s favorite words when he is at the center of it. Unfortunately, when a sinful and broken world gets in the way, family can be one of Satan’s favorite ways to keep us from God.
For some of you, you grew up in a loving and safe family environment. For others, the word “family” might as well be a four letter word.
Some had parents with jobs that provided for every need, and perhaps even every want, you could ever ask. Others have lived in such poverty that they have never known a day where you didn’t to worry about your next meal or the clothes on your back.
Some families could provide you with the love, support, and encouragement that you needed to become the best person you could be. They were incredible role models that you could look up to day after day. Others yearn for affection, attention, and affirmation from the people who they love the most but never get it. The popular sports figure and successful music artist, despite the worldly message they are sending, are the only consistent examples that you had to follow.
Some have witnessed what it looked like to live in community, to work out issues of anger and doubt in a respectful and safe way, and to submit to authority. Others have been “on your own” for as long as you can remember because dad is long gone and your mom is too busy providing for her children to guide you on the path to success. There was no safe outlet to express your hurts, angers, and fears when they arose, nor did you have the desire to because you didn’t want to add another thing to your family’s already loaded plate.
For some, “You are talented. You are loved. You are my joy. You are worth my time.” were the truths that you heard and thought daily, either consciously or subconsciously. For others, “You don’t fit in. You are a burden. You aren’t worth my time.” Were the lies that you heard daily, either consciously or subconsciously.
I think you get the point.
Family. The people that will love you no matter what. Some people were dealt a hand of a loving family that cares for them and who have the capacity to show it in a stable, consistent environment. If that’s you, praise the Lord! If you were not dealt the same hand, there is hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. Praise him who rescues us out of the darkness and adopts us into his own family.
There are people all around us who need to be adopted in the family of Jesus Christ. They need to know the love that only God the Father can provide them. They need to be surrounded by loving brothers and sisters who can walk with them no matter what issues they are going through. They need truth along with someone to expose the lies that they have believed for decades. They need a loving family that they can trust. Life was not meant to be lived alone, but there are so many around us who are living in isolation just trying to get through one day at a time. For those of those without family, the Church can be just that. We are called to help fulfill that need.
I am reminded of the story of the Good Samaritian in Luke 10 and I can’t help but try to put it in today’s terms as we consider the community that we are called to. All over Lake Highlands, there are people that are spiritually beaten and left for dead. The world has done a number on them and they are just trying to survive. Everyday people just like us, me included, walk past the wounded and ignore them. We don’t make eye contact. We don’t ask them questions. We don’t bother to get involved with the injuries and damage that has been done to their heart by this sinful world. These people are our neighbors and they are our brothers and sisters in Christ that we are passing by each and every day. We would never let our own flesh and blood family members suffer through such hard times, would we? No. We would do whatever it took to help them out and support them. Let us do the same with our neighbors here in Lake Highlands.
He asks us to get in the trenches, to go on other people’s turf, and make relationships with people from all different walks of life. Relationships bring the trust and authority needed to give us the platform to truly explain and demonstrate who Jesus Christ really is.
I will be the first to say that tithing to the church and donating to money to someone in need is good, Godly, and necessary, but those things are only a small fraction of what Jesus asks us to do when he asks us to follow him. He asks us to get in the trenches, to go on other people’s turf, and make relationships with people from all different walks of life. Relationships bring the trust and authority needed to give us the platform to truly explain and demonstrate who Jesus Christ really is. Dine with people. Ask them questions. Get to know them. Get on their level and serve them. Invite them into the family of Christ, where we have a Father who will take care of their every need. Are these things radical and counter-cultural? Yes, but when we read the Bible we see that Jesus was radical and counter-cultural as well.
Psalm 68:5 says that God is a father to the fatherless and a protector of the widow (or in most cases these days, the single mother). Ephesians 5 tells us to be imitators of Christ. It tells us to walk in love and to give ourselves up as a sacrifice. Church, I know this is difficult. I understand that it is hard to venture out of your comfort zone and enter someone else’s world with all the problems that go along with it. It is so easy to get frightened and intimidated by all the circumstances and all the “What if’s”. We are all busy. We all don’t have as much money as we would like. We all have our own responsibilities and loved ones to consider. But I am convinced that Jesus is bigger than all of that. I do not believe that he will harm us or not provide for us if we indeed do as he says.
Matthew 16:24-28 is very clear when Jesus says whoever will lose his life for His sake will gain it. Let’s take a step out in faith and see what happens when we combat the brokenness of this sinful world with the Love of Christ through consistent and trusting relationships. Let’s see when we put other people and their needs above our own. Let’s see what Jesus does if we surround the lost people of Lake Highlands with the Family of Christ. How exciting it will be, and how blessed we will be, when J.C. Copeland's story will become another's story in our community because of the way Jesus loves through us.
Zach Garza is the founder of Forerunner Mentoring Program based in Lake Highlands. He is also a teacher at LH Junior High. FMP exists to facilitate life transformation through the power of one on one mentoring relationships founded on trust, love and intentionality. You can read Zach's personal story here.