Like most churches, we try very hard to be "family friendly." After all, the traditional family is under attack in our world today, so the church wants to be a shelter for families in this culture of storm.
- So we have a family minister and often talk about family values.
- We have sponsored family retreats and had marriage seminars.
- We even had plans for awhile to build a family life center.
Some churches have "singles ministers" and "singles retreats," but I have never heard of a "single life center." Sometimes some people get lost in the shuffle when we focus too much on family values.
You see, the church has not always been quite as "family friendly" as we see it today, and least not in one sense. Listen to the following letter written by a distraught parent to a government official complaining about a dangerous new cult:
I am writing to you to plead on behalf of my son. All of his life, this boy has had the best education that money could buy, and he was well on his way to a great career as a lawyer. But just when it seemed his future was secure, he was suddenly snatched by some weird religious sect who now controls every move that he makes. It is as if he is no longer part of our family nor the world that he lived in before they took him. Sir, I implore you and the government to investigate this cult and stop the dangerous influence that this sect is having on our young.
What cult is being described? The church! This is a composite of several letters from parents in the third century complaining to government officials about Christianity. Christians were on the outs with the culture of Rome for several reasons, one of which is that were were seen as a threat to families! But didn't Jesus predict that this would be the case? Yes, the Bible stresses family values and family responsibilities. But when people are serious about following God, that commitment can have a negative impact on their families.
51 Do you think I came to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but division. 52 From now on there will be five in one family divided against each other, three against two and two against three. 53 They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law." (Luke 12: 51-53)
Yes, the church must be all for families, but then we also have a higher calling. Church is to BECOME a family; we are to live as a band of brothers and sisters in a common bond that transcends family and becomes family to those who have no family. The church does not exist to simply serve our families; the church exists to transform our families and make them a part of the family of God.