How would you describe your family? What words or phrases would you use to define those individuals that make up your family unit? Some of you might use words such as “loving,” “reliable,” “loyal,” “caring,” “close,” or “encouraging.” Others of you might choose words like “broken,” “dysfunctional,” “complex,” “untrustworthy,” “fractured,” or “hurting.” That’s the reality of family. One’s experiences may seem like an ocean away from what someone else might be taking in when it comes to how they view their family. Families are complex, families go through seasons of conflict or disjointedness, families are not perfect…even the most uplifting ones.
I am very thankful that I was able to experience a family where my parents loved each other and loved their kids and sought to bring them up in a loving knowledge of the Lord. There were definitely times where I took what I had and have for granted. I would also be the first to admit that, even though my family was wonderful, and encouraging, and fun, we were not perfect. My parents had their moments of disagreement, my siblings and I would not always “play nice” together, there were times when we didn’t always see eye-to-eye with one another, there were times where our differences even amidst our unity rose to the forefront.
But no matter what your family background or upbringing was or is like, the beautiful reality is that God always goes above and beyond our experiences. When it comes to His family, that’s where the comparisons stop dead in their tracks. The reality of God’s family meets each of us in our own situations and reminds us again of who we are and Whose we are. God has stepped in and claimed you and I as His…as His children. He invites you and I into His family and it has nothing to do with what we bring to the table or can offer Him. He does it out of a radical love and a scandalous mercy that defies understanding. While you may be a part of a family here on this Earth, God has adopted you into His family and that is to shape how you live, view, and interact with those around you.
God’s way of showing up and revealing Himself and His gifts in our lives always come in spite of our attitudes, viewpoints, and circumstances. He fills in the gaps of what we need and promises that being a member of His family will never disappoint. In God’s family, He is our Protector, our Provider, our Father who loves nothing more than for His children to know that He loves them.
Being a member of God’s family brings unity, encouragement, shaping, and equipping that builds the Body of Christ up in a way that uplifts each of the other members, but also seeks to be a blessing to those not yet in that family. As the Church, we have a distinct and unique calling and opportunity as children of God: to love, serve, and encourage one another and to share those gifts to those we meet and know that need to feel the bond of true family that can only be found in Christ.
Living in the Middle of Rescue and Restoration
Ah, summer. It’s right around the corner. And as I am sitting here writing this, the temperature is climbing outside. It’s amazing how our bodies grow so accustomed to the winter chill that a mere 75-degree day feels unbearably hot. But this is what many people appreciate about the summer months: a break from the snow, ice, and cold, warm, sunny days, planting gardens, taking vacations, no school, and chances to go swimming and have new adventures outdoors. Summer is seen as a time to take it a bit easier, to rest, relax, and rejuvenate amidst all the opportunity that summer has to offer.
When many think of Summer R&R, they tend to think of “Rest” and “Relaxation.” But here, at Oak Hill this summer, we will be looking at some different “R” words that are going to set the framework for our summer preaching series together: “Rescue” and “Restoration.” We are going to be going through Paul’s Epistle to the Church in Galatia and we are going to be given some wonderful reminders about what God’s Word has to say about our lives that we live day in and day out.
We are going to see that He has rescued us; rescued us from sin, death, and the power of evil and has redeemed us and set us free. In Galatians 1:3-4, Paul writes: “Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to rescue us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.” He has restored a right relationship and standing on our behalf so that we can be called and live as His children in this world He has placed us in. The beautiful part is that both of those things go together. He has rescued us and restored us, and He now calls us to be His hands, feet, and witnesses in helping rescue and restore the lives of those around us who need this hope in their lives too. Paul gives us this reminder in Galatians 6:1 when he says: “Brothers and sisters, if someone is caught in a sin, you who live by the Spirit should restore that person gently. But watch yourselves, or you also may be tempted.”
So, how does one do this? How does one live as a believer who has been rescued from this present evil age and yet is called to restore others gently? This is an age-old question that we will seek to take a deeper look at together this summer. As believers, we live as citizens of two worlds: God’s Kingdom and this world in which we currently reside. We are truly in the middle. We are members of God’s family and await our future place in heaven with Him, but we are also currently living as citizens of this globe with all of its standards and regulations. God calls us, as His children, to know where we stand in His sight: as holy, righteous, and forgiven through what His Son did for us on the cross. He also calls us to be active in this world with the time we have and the people we rub shoulders with to bring His restoration into their lives. We do this by standing on His Ultimate Truth, showing and sharing real relationships and community, leading by way of serving, and proclaiming God’s love to each person in a way that opens their eyes to the One in us.
I am looking forward to a great summer as we learn and grow together in our understanding of how God calls us to live in this time and space that He has given to us.
Pastor Ben Bigaouette