GOD IS A GOD OF FAMILIES
God does almost everything in a family way. The very name we use for God is "Father". That aspect of God that came to earth to reconcile us with the Father we call the Son. The Son refers to us as his brothers and we are to call each other brother and sister.
- "God sets the lonely in a family ..." (Psalm 68:6)
- "I kneel before the Father from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name." (Ephesians 3:14,15)
- "I will be a father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters." (2 Corinthians 6:17,18)
The church is a family, not a club or organisation.
Families are not necessarily perfect - show me one that is.
But core values are care, discipline, authority, protection, love.
SPIRITUAL FAMILIES HAVE EARTHLY FATHERS
When Elijah, the prophet, had finished his work God told him to anoint Elisha as his successor. Elisha became to Elijah what Joshua had been to Moses and what Paul had been to Timothy.
When Elijah met Elisha he threw his cloak around him and Elisha knew what it meant. The younger would take over from the older and do what he did (1 Kings 19:19-21). This is true apostolic succession born out of relationship not a ritual act.
In II Kings 2 we see that Elisha will not leave his spiritual parent and asks for a double portion of his spirit. He is told he will receive it if he stays right to the end. Elijah is taken up to heaven in a "chariot or fire and horses of fire" and Elisha's response is, "My father! My father!".
Interestingly enough, the only physical thing that remains is Elisha's cloak. This cloak is the physical symbol of the ministry of Elijah passing on to Elisha. He then parts the water of the river Jordan with the cloak and like Joshua crosses over. The names Joshua and Elisha both mean "God saves".
What is of pivotal importance to us is that Elisha calls the older man and his teacher, "My father, My father!"
BUT I DON'T NEED A SPIRITUAL FATHER!
Modern society has lost almost all respect for family. The biblical model of the family was that of the eldest male and his wife being the parents of the whole extended family. Young men would have responsibility and authority to raise their children but their father or grandfather would still be the final earthly authority over the family. Money has become our ultimate authority. The moment one earns enough money we have the complete right over our lives. We bring this principle into the church. Spiritual orphans are the result.
The old father of the extended family would not feed every child in the family neither would he clean every nappy. Sons and daughters where given authority as they are able to cope.
Like-wise in the church every believer is expected to grow from baby to young adult to parent. Each believer is to become a spiritual parent as each person in the natural grows up and becomes a natural parent. The church often expects the spiritual father (of the whole church) to be the only one producing spiritual offspring and cleaning all the nappies.
Have you noticed in your own attitudes that is was only when you became a parent that you started to appreciate your own parents? This is often why the church is full of "spiritual teenage rebels". When I go to my parents house any meal is great because I didn't have to pay for it and cook it. It is the little ones and the teenagers that moan about the "stew again".
PAUL'S EXAMPLE OF THE SPIRITUAL FAMILY
He calls them "my dear children" and himself "your father". He notes that they have many guardians but not many fathers. They are told to imitate their father. Because their father is far away Paul was going to send them "his son Timothy" (I Corinthians 4:14).
END TIME FAMILY RESTORATION (see Malachi 4:5,6)