Family Matters: Rise and Shine

[mk_dropcaps style="fancy-style"]C[/mk_dropcaps]an you believe half of the year has already come and gone?  I feel like time has gone so fast and yet so much has happened.  Being at the half-year point, I paused to reflect on my journey for my word-for-the-year.  My word is “fearless” and it’s for all areas of my life.  I have faced it most in relationships, like I talked about in last month’s “Flying Solo to Dynamic Duo,” but have not felt as stretched in my fearlessness in business or boldness in my faith.  However, to be honest, it has all been a stretch.  I realize, more than ever, how fear creeps in and it frustrates me endlessly when it does.  How and why does fear keep making its way in if I intentionally open myself for God to love me fully?  My desire is to see in my life as a manifestation of 1 John 4:8. [mk_blockquote style="line-style" font_family="none" text_size="16" align="center"]“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment.  The one who fears is not made perfect in love.”[/mk_blockquote]

 

I guess you could say the competitive part of me wants to hurry up and be “perfect in love” already!

Confession: I am not a perfectionist; but I do crave to be my very best.

I want to live out my God-designed purpose and destiny.  To me, that means being as influential as God made me to be.  The area that influence seems most challenging is to those closest to me and to those whose faith is different than mine.

This brings me to the theme for July… Family Matters.

The fact that I grew up watching the show “Family Matters” dates me but I have a fondness in my heart for Steve Urkel.  His popular catchphrase “Did I do that?” plays in my head with his hilarious nasal voice-over as a result.  However, that TGIF sitcom is not my point.

Throughout the month of July, I want to address a matter that hits close to home.  How do you walk out your faith when those close to you are not on the same page?  How do you share your faith with them without arguing or compromising your faith and most importantly effectively showing the love of God?

The timing of this theme seems all the more poignant now with the tumultuous tone set by the aftermath of two recent events; the shooting at the church in Charleston, South Carolina and the recent legalization of same-sex marriage.  These events, along with many others, have magnified our need as a church for increased unity.  It’s easy to get caught up in trying to maintain Jesus’ reputation when things are more heated like they are right now. However, as Christians, we are ambassadors for Christ, not His PR agents.  We are to show the love of God boldly, not debate it.  We are to bring change, not just talk about it.

If you are like me, this leaves you asking… "How? What role can I play?  Will it even make a difference?”  In moments of questioning, I can easily freeze with with fear, resulting in silence.  But our silence is deafening.  I’m not saying that we each have to make some sort of public statement and many of us should not as that is not our role, but a response is required.  The Church is not the building we meet in.  The Church is each and everyone of us.  That means the responsibility falls on everyone to respond.  But, how?  I wanted to know my part to play so I asked the Lord, “What would you have me do?” and "What do you want us to do collectively?

What I believe the Lord wants for me and for us as a church is to “rise and shine.”   In scripture, this is used in two verses:

[mk_blockquote style="line-style" font_family="none" text_size="16" align="center"]Isaiah 60:1 “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.”[/mk_blockquote]

[mk_blockquote style="line-style" font_family="none" text_size="16" align="center"]Galatians 5:14 “ This is why it is said: “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”[/mk_blockquote]

 

Now, that is not the common language of today so let me attempt to phrase this a bit differently. As ambassadors for Christ, especially with those closest to us, we are to raise the truth of His word, and shine His love.  We help our loved ones arise in the truth of the Word of God by building trust with them showing them the truth, not shoving it down their throats by relentless nagging.  We shine His love when we cease taking the position of “you should…” and pointing out the faults of our loved ones and instead finding their point of pain that you connect with.  From that place of “me too…,” we can shine the love of God into that void by loving them unconditionally.  We are called to live differently and to love differently than the world.  This is the perfect love outlined in 1 John 4:8.  Embrace it.

Truth and love combined is what makes our influence most potent.  Without one or the other, we become irrelevant. We are most relevant by not conforming to the pattern of the word, but by showing them more of the ONE we all need!

We do this through an understanding of the value of trust.  I will address this next week but the truth is we as followers of Christ or as leaders must never take for granted the value of building and establishing trust.  That is key in shining the light of the Lord into their lives.  We can not just create a rude awakening to leave our loved ones high and dry, but follow through with the love of God.  That takes us living vulnerably so others can see where God has moved through our depravity to make us whole.

This is not an exact formula.  For those of you who like clean points, I apologize.  Our God is an orderly God, but not a robotic God.  He is relational.  With that means, there is a wide array of ways to reach those closest to us.  It is my belief when we get out of our own way and play what part we are built to play, God will take care of our families.  It does not fall on us to do the saving.  That is what Jesus did.  We are just the messenger of what He did, to build the leadership in those who take up the call.  That is how we rise and shine in all areas of this life.  It is a challenge.  But it is what brings true fulfillment.  Now, rise up to truth and shine His love.

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