Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Church's Greatest Rival

And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and inherit eternal life. (Matthew 19:29)

God has appointed three Institutions which are established on Covenantal Oath, require Covenantal renewal, and bear covenantal sanctions. These three Institutions are: the family, the church and civil government (often called, 'the State'). Of these three, the church is the most foundational and has the highest priority in the purposes of God. Jesus identified the patriarchal family as the greatest hindrance in the dominion work of the Kingdom of God; His criticisms towards idolatrous family ties were much stronger than His criticisms of the State:

“If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple (Luke 14:26).

“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it (Matthew 10:34-39).

Do not trust in a friend; do not put your confidence in a companion; guard the doors of your mouth from her who lies in your bosom. For son dishonors father, daughter rises against her mother, daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; a man’s enemies are the men of his own household. Therefore I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. (Micah 7:5-7)

The church is the only protection that the family has against an oppressive state. A strong family, in the context of a weak church , will always side with the State. An oppressive State can only be subdued by a strong church, for it is the church to which Jesus has given the keys of the Kingdom of God (they have been given neither to the State, nor to the family):

When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?” So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter (a small stone), and on this rock (a large rock = the revelation that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God) I will build My church, and the gates of Hades (neither the Patriarchal family, nor the oppressive State) shall not prevail against it. And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven.” (Matthew 16:13-19)

Despite all her faults, we are to love the church, as Christ loved her and gave His life for her.

1 comment:

Steve from the Alice said...

I have more to comment on then can fit in here. Just a couple of thoughts for discussion later.

I am not sure exactly what all the implications are that you would have the reader draw from your statements regarding family and the necessity of loving the church above all. it would seem that to love Christ supremely, one needs to love his or her Christian brother and sisters. This may or may not include one's biological family, but 1 John makes it clear that one cannot simply love Christ purely at the expense of 'hating' others, including family, however one wishes to define 'hatred' as Jesus used it.

Jesus' words are a must be taken, interpreted and understood as Paul did in, among other places, 1 Cor 7 and Eph 5. One cannot possibly hate one's wife, as you would seem to imply, and still love her as Christ loved the church.

I think one also needs to distinguish situations where to become a Christian means excommunication from one's ethnic, biological family, as with Moslem or Jewish conversion. I do not believe that Jesus is talking about a husband's duty to care for, love, nurture and protect one's wife and family.

So while it is certainly true to say that the church is foundational, it in and of itself is and must be comprised of families, being led by Christ-like husbands exercising dominion within the family as intended by God. So two things are true: churches can be no stronger than the individuals and families comprising it, and families can be no stronger than the church and Christ who unifies.