In this message, we learn the importance of being a family on mission together.
Alright! Good morning and welcome to Valley Creek Church. If this is your first time with us, I’m so glad that you’re here. We want to give a big welcome to our Denton campus. Will you welcome them with me?
We are so glad that you guys are here. And if this is your first time in Denton, welcome. We’re glad that you’re here. I don’t know about you, but I was really grateful in my life this week. As the CD was released last week and I just got to listen to it all week in my life, I was really grateful. I was grateful to be a part of this church. I felt grateful for what God is doing in this place. I’m grateful that we’re a part of a church where we release people to use their gifts and passions and talents that end up blessing all of us. This week I was really grateful to just be a part of this family. In a broken and dysfunctional world that’s thirsty and starving, I was grateful for family this week. And I think that’s probably how the first century church felt. I think they were grateful people.
I think they were grateful for what God was doing and for who they had and for the gifts and talents of the people around them. I think they were grateful for their leaders and for the apostles and for how God was moving. I think they were grateful to be a part of family. Their world was just as dysfunctional and broken and starving as ours is today. And so I think they were just grateful to be a part of this thing called church, called the family. And if you look at the Bible and you say, “How do you describe the first century church?”, really here’s how I think you describe it. They were a family on mission. That’s who they were. If you read the Bible about the first century church, they were family on mission. They were deeply devoted to each other and deeply committed to the cause of Jesus. That’s who they were and that’s why they turned the world upside down, because they lived as this family on mission. Not only is that how they turned the world upside down, that’s how they actually survived. I mean, they were persecuted. They had troubles. They had heartbreak. They had issues. But they survived because family can make it through anything. And not only did they survive, they thrived and they turned the world upside down.
And we’ve been in this series together for the last few weeks called ‘Upside Down Church’, talking about the church that can turn the world upside down. And we said we’ve had to change our way of thinking and have an upside down view of what the church is to be the church that can turn the world upside down. And so I was thinking about that this week, and I think if we’re honest, very few of us have ever experienced church as family on mission. In fact, if we look at the modern church, I don’t think we would describe it as family on mission. I think we would describe it like this – individuals looking for consumption. I realize that’s not a great moniker to give to the church, but really we’ve got to be honest. The modern day church is individuals looking for consumption, deeply devoted to self and deeply committed to consume. The church in the modern era has really lived as individuals separated from each other instead of families united with one another. And that’s why in a lot of ways the church has been powerless and been deeply unsatisfying, because we’ve been living as individuals and we miss it.
And the reality is this human nature will always drift you to this place of living as an individual looking for consumption. It is only through the Holy Spirit that you will ever be able to live as family on mission. And if we don’t use the word family to describe our experience or our belief as church, then something is wrong and we’ve got to change the way we think. So if you’ve got a Bible, Ephesians Chapter 1 – we’re just going to go to kind of some basic, really simple stuff. I mean, here is the start of your salvation, the beginning of your walk with God. Ephesians Chapter 1, starting in Verse 3 – It says, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ, for he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons and daughters through Jesus Christ, in accordance with the pleasure and will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us, with all wisdom and understanding.” Okay, if we go all the way back to the beginning, here’s what we discover. We discover the Father sent the son, Jesus, on family business. Jesus came to this earth to die on the cross, rise again from the grave, so that we could be forgiven of our sins. He has forgiven our wickedness and remembers our sins no more. But it wasn’t just for the forgiveness of sins, it was so we could be adopted into the Father’s family. Salvation is not just about getting a ticket to heaven. Salvation is getting adopted into a loving family. And so ‘to follow Jesus’ literally means we become adopted into this family called the church. And we need to learn to embrace that church, that truth, and change the way we think, so we can change the way we live. Okay?
So a couple of simple thoughts for you like we’ve been in this series. First thing is this; God is building a family. God is building a family. The whole Bible is the story of family. It’s the story of a loving Father building a family for Himself, from Genesis to Revelation. That’s what the Bible is about. I mean, think about it. In Genesis, God creates Adam and Eve. He creates children in the garden because He wants a family. He says, “I’ll be your father. You will be my children and we’ll live together in this great family.” And they were a family on mission, because He says, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and rule over it and subdue it.” But they didn’t want family. They rejected the Father and struck out on their own. You can fast-forward the story. Everybody starts living in bondage and brokenness, individualism, isolation, and you get to the Israelites. After 400 years of slavery God shows up and He says, “Hey guys, I want to set you free. I want to be your dad and I want you to be my kids. You’ll be the children of Israel and I’ll bring you to the promised land, and we’ll live together as a family. I’ll be your father, you be my kids, and it will be great.”
And so God sets them free and brings them into the promised land, but if you read about the Israelites you realize they didn’t really want family either. They kind of reject the Father and the whole story of the Israelites is the orphan spirit embodied. They lived as individuals. They were hoarding. They were fearful. They tried to find their own significance and their own identity and they rejected the Father. You can fast-forward to the end of the Old Testament, and the last verse in the Old Testament – Malachi 4:6 – God says, “I will turn the hearts of the fathers to their children, and the hearts of the children to the fathers.” In other words, “Even if you don’t want family, I am going to go ahead and create one for myself. That’s how important it is to me”, God says. And you step into the New Testament. Jesus comes, the son on the Father’s family business, and he comes to reveal who the Father is and what the Father is like. He lives as a son to show us how great the Father’s family is. And the fact that the Israelites were the orphan spirit embodied, Jesus is son-ship embodied. And he shows us what it’s like to live with the Father’s abundance and provision and protection and peace and security and all those things.
And then Jesus goes to the cross and he dies, so we could be adopted into the family. And then the rest of the story of the Bible, it is the story of the New Testament church. And the primary analogy the Bible uses is that of family. God is building a family for Himself. He is building Valley Creek Church into a family. And the primary way that God wants to be known is that of Father. Of all the ways He has revealed Himself to us – creator, sustainer, redeemer, forgiver – he wants to be known as Father. Why? Because Father is not what He does; Father is who He is. 2nd Corinthians 6:18 – He says, “I will be a Father to you, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.” The more we understand that He is Father, the more we start to see each other as family. Listen to what Paul says. Ephesians 3 – He says, “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.”
In other words Paul says, “When I understand He is Father, I can’t help but then know that you are now family.” And so maybe the reason the church hasn’t lived as family is because we have forgotten that He is Father. Now before I go any before let me go ahead and just say the obvious in a sense. I think a lot of us, we resist God as father because we’ve been hurt by our earthly Father. There’s a whole lot of us sitting here today and we absolutely resist God as father because we’ve been hurt by our dads. Some of you are in this room and you’ve been hurt in ways I can’t even begin to understand or describe. You’ve been hurt, abused, rejected, abandoned, wounded. Some of you have gaping wounds in your heart that are raw and alive and just sitting there festering because we’ve been hurt. And we take all of that and we project it on God. Can I tell you; your earthly father is not the image of The Father, Jesus is.
Your dad is not the image of the Father. Jesus is. John 14:9 – Jesus says, “I am the image of the invisible God.” He says, “If you want to know what the Father is like, look at me. If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father. You want to know how the Father acts and thinks and behaves and speaks and how he moves? Look at me.” So all of Jesus’ compassion and love and kindness and forgiveness, that is the image or the representation of the Father. Your dad is not the image of the Father; Jesus is. And until you can forgive your father it’s going to be really hard to engage with Him as Father, which means it will be almost impossible to see us as family. And so maybe you can ask the Holy Spirit to help you forgive and release. And I realize that’s not an easy thing to do, but what you have to remember is that forgiveness is a choice, not a feeling. And when you choose to forgive, you are the one who gets set free.
It’s not about your dad. It’s about you being free, so you can have a good father and live in a family. He is building a family for Himself, okay? And what the Father wants more than anything else is He just wants to see His kids love each other. Like, as a dad I love watching my kids wrestle and play and laugh and joke and sing and dance and share and encourage each other. My kids are 6 and 8 right now, and so it’s amazing they’re into Army. Watching a 6-year-old little girl dressed up in camel and an 8-year-old little boy dressed up in camel, and one of them becomes sergeant and one of them becomes soldier, and they run around the house with fake machine guns. “Sergeant, throw that grenade! We’ll bunch up behind you. Enemy forces coming in! There’s a fighter pilot above you.” And somebody gets popped in the middle and they start crying. They pop the other person and now he started crying [Laughs]. And I love it!
I love it! I would just sit there and watch my kids do this, and it brings me so much joy. It brings the father joy when you do that with each other.
Galatians 6:10 says, “Therefore, as we have the opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.” In other words he says, “Love everybody, especially love the family.” When I first started as a pastor all I really cared about was the mission, like family on mission. All I really was interested in was the mission. I wanted to go. I wanted to reach people. I wanted to change the world. I wanted to bring heaven to earth. It was all about the mission. But as I’ve grown and matured in my own walk with Jesus I’ve come to love the family part. I love watching you love each other. I love watching you serve, share, be kind, forgive. I love watching you enjoy each other. I love hearing about a single mom who has nothing and people show up to meet her needs. I love hearing about somebody that’s in the hospital and watching some of you go to just pray for them and take care of their kids.
I love hearing about game nights and football games and things that you go and do and hang out with each other, just to have fun and be together like a family. I love hearing about how you pray for each other and bless each other when you’re going through hard things. I love watching you live as a family on a mission. I mean, imagine a father who gave everything he had to bring his family back together and the kids said, “I don’t really want to come home, dad.” That would be heartbreaking. Do you understand that’s what the church does when they refuse to live as the family that had cost the Father everything to create? We honor the Father by engaging the family that cost Him everything to have. And Jesus is always leading you towards us, okay? God is building a family. The second thing is this. You can only reach your potential in family. It’s only in family where you will ever reach your potential. If you read the story of the first century church, it’s like they all reached their potential. It’s amazing!
Everybody had power. Everybody had gifts and talents. Everybody had abilities. Everybody became mature. Everybody became healthy. Acts 2:46 and 47 says, “Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts. They lived as family, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” They lived as family on mission, which means ordinary people were released to do extraordinary things. Everybody reached their potential because they were in family. Now fast-forward just generation away from this Acts 2 reality, just one generation probably away and you get to the book of Hebrews in the Bible. And it’s probably written to just one generation removed from this Acts 2 reality. And they’re not encouraged for reaching their potential. They’re rebuked for being childish, for being immature, for having hard hearts, and for resisting the voice of God.
Just one generation away! Listen to what it says. Hebrews 10:24 and 25 – “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let’s help each other reach our potential. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another.” In other words, they stopped meeting together. They stopped living as family on mission. They became individuals looking for consumption, so none of them reached their potential. None of them became healthy and none of them became mature. I mean, imagine my two kids for a moment, 6 and 8. Imagine if one day they come to me and Coleen and they say, “Hey, mom and dad, we just wanted you to know. It’s been great living in this house with you. We’ve just loved everything you’ve done for us, but we think our life can be better on our own. So we’re going to strike it out and go do our own thing, but don’t worry. We’ll be back every Christmas and Easter. Okay, mom and dad?” Now, do you think my kids are going to reach their potential? Yes or no.
Come on, yes or no? Are they going to become healthy? Yes or no? Are they going to become mature? Yes or no?
No! They may survive. They may make it, but they’re certainly not going to be healthy and reach their potential. Okay, why do we think we can do that? Why do we think we can think show up at Christmas and Easter and all of a sudden we’re going to step into the abundant life that Jesus has for us? Come on, people! How can you sit on the fringe for your entire church existence and expect to experience all of the good things that God has in store for you? They are not released on your own. They’re released in potential. A 6-year-old and an 8-year-old cannot thrive on their own. Can survive? Maybe [Laughs].
But cannot thrive. And what we’ve done in the church is we have confused surviving with thriving. A lot of us think we’re thriving, but the truth is you’re just surviving.
You’re like, “No, no, I have that car. I have the house. Boy, I look pretty. And I’ve got a great job.” That’s surviving. You’re not thriving because you survive on your own, but you could only thrive in a family. I mean, just take the disciples for a second. Just take Peter, John, and Matthew. On their own apart from Jesus, if Jesus would have never come, they could have survived. Peter would have survived. He would have had a miserable marriage and a tough life, but he would have been okay. He would have survived. John, maybe he would have hit it big on the Sea of Galilee and been the kingpin of all the fishing and bought a nice mountain house, you know, up in the mountains overlooking the sea. Matthew could have become the VP of all the tax collectors. Maybe he could have got that title. I mean, “I hope he gets the VP”. [Laughs] I mean, he could have been that guy. That would have been surviving. It’s not until Jesus shows up and turns them into a little family that they start to thrive, where Peter walks on water and preaches to 3000 people to get them saved.
It’s not until Jesus turns him into family that John gets rid of his anger problem and becomes the apostle of love. It’s not until Jesus shows up that Matthew removes himself from the love of money and writes one of the gospels and the most significant book in all of human history. They survived on their own. They thrived as family. How about you? Are you surviving or thriving? In fact, let me say it to you like this. You’re not okay without us and we’re not okay without you. I realize you don’t like that statement as it comes out of my mouth.
But you’re not okay without us and we’re not okay without you. You need us and we need you. Like, you need the people in this church to encourage you, strengthen you, build you, inspire you, heal you. Ready for this? You need the people in this church to offend you. Like, what? Yeah!
You’re like, “Well, that happens all the time.” Well, good, because you need it. You need them to offend you, so you can learn to forgive. You need the people in the church to bother you. You’re thinking like, “You’re bothering me right now, John.” Okay. Well, good!
You need people in this church to bother you, so you can learn to become flexible and get over yourself. You need people in this church –
[Laughs] Wow! That one hit a nerve, I guess. I don’t know. You need people in this church to have needs, so you can serve them and step out of your own life and take care of someone else. Come on, how are you going to become like Jesus without that? Because Jesus forgave people that offended him; he was flexible when people bothered him, and he served people who had needs. How are you going to figure that out if you’re an individual looking for consumption? So you need us, but we need you. You have gifts and passions and talents and a unique design. There are things that you can do for this family that no one else can do, and we need you to do those things.
Ephesians 4:16 – “From him, Jesus, the whole body,” – the family – “is joined and held together by every supporting ligament,” – relationships – “as it grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” In other words, you can’t be built up without us and we can’t be built up without you. We have got to stop thinking we can thrive on our own because we cannot. I mean, did you ever think about how much unused potential sits in the church every single weekend? Like, right now this weekend across America, just think of all the churches and all the people. Think of all the latent, unused potential that’s just sitting there. People that come in, individuals looking for consumption, and because they’re deeply committed to self and deeply committed to consuming, they don’t engage. So this potential that God put within them, it stays latent because it can only be released when you’re part of family on a mission. And so all of this potential that God has to change the world, it just sits there.
I mean, I don’t know if you’ve ever thought about this or not, but everything we need to fulfill our vision and reach our city, it’s sitting in the seats right now. It’s in you. So all these hundreds of students that are showing up here every week, all the leaders we need to disciple them, they’re here. All of vision, all the finances, all the encouragement, all the leadership, all the experience – all of that is all here. The question is, will you be family on mission and allow that potential to be released? I mean, think about what happened. In family the basic human needs are met. It’s in family where you find these three things – safety, value and love expressed. It’s what happens in family. If you have those three things, don’t you think you can do anything? I mean, think of my kids. In my home they know they’re safe, valued and have love expressed. My kids know they’re safe, so my kids will run around the house in their underpants. Okay? Don’t do that here.
An usherer, I promise you, will talk to you if you’re doing that. But they run around the house in their underpants. They will play superheroes and princesses. They will sing at the top of their lungs. They will be vulnerable and transparent, admit mistakes. Why? Because when you’re safe, you’re free. So they’re safe. They know they have value, which means they know they’re significant. Because they’re in our family they know they are significant, which means they walk through life with confidence. They’re not trying to find significance from the people out there, because they start with significance and they go out with it, which means they can live in confidence. And then they have love expressed. Every single day we look our kids in the eyes and tell them they’re loved. Every night when I’m tucking them in – I tuck little Emma in and I look at her in the eyes and I say, “I love you baby.” And I call out her unique design. “Emma, you’re a worshipper and God made you to be an artist, and you’re going to create amazing masterpieces for God. I love you.”
And I go to my little boy and I tuck him in and I say, “Hey, Tray. Hey buddy, you are like King David. You are a warrior with a gentle spirit. And God is going to protect that tender heart in you and you are going to lead great things for him, and I love you.” And I watch it like a balloon inside of them fill up. So my question for you in your home would be this. In your family is there safety, value and love expressed? People in my family, they know I love them. Do they? Do you look them in the eyes and say it? It’s when you have that you can do anything. I mean, I tell our team this all the time. I’m always telling our team, “Hey guys, remember, we’re building a family. That’s all we’re doing. We’re building a family, so just stay consistent.” And I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know. We live in the metroplex. People come and go in and out of the church all the time. Okay? You know that. You see them. They just show up and leave, and it’s usually the person that shows up and says, “This is the greatest thing since sliced bread,” – okay, they’re not even going to make it a week.
I’m just telling you [Laughs], because they’re looking for something to consume, and when it’s not met they get offended by you or bothered by me, whatever the case may be. And they flee and run down the road to the next thing. Okay, fine. But we’re building a family, which means the light will always be on the porch and like the prodigal father you can come home anytime you want. And I cannot control how other people engage with our family, but I myself can choose to be part of the family. And if you’re going to be part of the family, there’s three simple things that you have to then like engage or you’re not really in the family. Everybody in family, any family in the world, you need someone to know, something to do, and someone to become. You need someone to know. You don’t need to know a little bit about a lot of people. You need to know a lot about a few people. Someone to know; you need to know someone and have relationship. Otherwise, how is it family?
And you need something to do. You need purpose. Families sweep the floor and take out the garbage and do the dishes and fold the laundry and deal with all that stuff, because it’s part of the family purpose. You need part of the purpose of this family, and then you need someone to become. You need someone who is further down the road than you that inspires you, that you look at and say, “I want to be like them.” Remember, when growing up it was like – you wanted to be like Uncle Joey or Aunt Diane, whatever? You know what I’m talking about? They were so cool. You just wanted to be like them, but really we probably should have never been like Uncle Joey [Laughs].
Wisdom would say. But he was cool when you were 5. But you were inspired; that’s family. And here’s what we say. We say, “Well that’s not possible because this is just too big.” Okay, time out. The first century church, may historians believed that the church at Jerusalem was close to 100,000 people and they were family on mission. So family really has nothing to do with the size of the crowd. It has everything to do with the posture of our heart.
Don’t wait until you need family to pursue family. Go through the pathway. Go to iServe. Join a group. Come to men’s or women’s gatherings. Do those things in fine faith. Don’t wait until you need it to pursue it. I’ll give you a really good example of family. This past week on Tuesday, 9-year-old Kyle Foreman passed away. After a nine-year battle with cerebral palsy, some genetic disorders and a whole bunch of other medical things that they were never really sure of, Kyle passed away and he went to be with the Lord. And if you don’t know who he is, Kyle is the son of Andy and Rachel Foreman, two of our worship leaders here at the church. And they primarily lead on the Flower Mount Campus on the weekends and the Flower Mound Hub ministry.
And if you were here last week when we released the CD, there was a video that played of the song ‘Emanuel’ and it was talking about how Rachel wrote the song ‘Emanuel’. And there were pictures of Kyle in it and the song was birthed out of their journey and some of the struggles they’ve had with Kyle. And yet they found that he was Emanuel, God with them, and come mountain or valley you will find them singing. And Kyle was an amazing boy with an amazing life, and he brought a whole lot of encouragement and hope and revelation to a whole lot of people in a whole lot of ways. On Tuesday, Kyle took his next step, which was really his first step, because today Kyle is able to walk in heaven. And I believe he is singing and dancing to the song ‘Emanuel’ today.
And so I tell you all that because this week I watched family.
I watched this Andy and Rachel who have no biological family that live in this town; I watched them be overwhelmed with family. I watched them have meals provided and hugs and people take care of their girls and clean their house and sort things out for them. I mean, I just watched what Jesus talks about family on mission. I just saw it all week. And they so believed that this is family that they want all of you to be invited to Kyle’s celebration service, Tuesday at 6:30 in the Flower Mount Worship Center. You are invited and we’re going to celebrate Kyle’s life. We’re going to live as family. And you say, “Well, I don’t Andy and Rachel.” It doesn’t matter. We’re still family. And I tell you all that because here’s the deal about Andy and Rachel. They didn’t wait until they needed family to pursue family. They pursued it when life was good. And so now when life is hard and they’re broken, family shows up and it’s there, and it’s in family where your potential is released. I would say like this. It’s in family where you get healing and comfort, where you find hope and restoration, where the love of Jesus moves in and sets you free.
They’re going to be okay and they’re going to make it, because the family that God has provided for them is there and they have chosen to engage it. And you may not think you need family today because you’ve got everything in the world, but you will need family at some point. Don’t wait till you need it, but pursue it. The last thing I want to tell you is this. It’s that the world longs for healthy family. There’s this little verse that’s probably on almost every chapter all throughout the book of Acts. It says, “The Lord added to their number daily.” I love it. Every day people joined the family. Why? Because people want to belong, be accepted, and be loved. In the first century world they were craving for it. They wanted out of the toxic relationships and the dysfunctional families of which they were in, and they wanted to be a part of something healthy. That’s why these shirts have been wildly successful. I mean, it’s a T-shirt people [Laughs].
But I’m watching as people who are on the fringe and don’t feel like a part of anything, it’s belonging, it’s acceptance, it’s love. And when they see someone in the city with it, all of a sudden it’s like, “I’m a part of that. I’m a part of this thing called healthy family. I can be a part of something that this world is not.” And what I love about God is that His heart is always for the stranger, the alien, the widow and the orphan. If you read the Bible, you will be amazed how many times those words come up. He wants to be a father to the fatherless. He wants to give family to the family-less.
Psalm 68:6 – “God sets the lonely in families.” Which means, we are the family He is providing for them, and we are the family He is providing for you. And so if you feel alone, if you feel like your family is falling apart, this is the family God has given you. He sent you here where you by faith engage Him.
I mean, I remember a few months ago someone in my life that we wanted to come to church, came. And she came to church and we were really excited, and she kind of came in late and just snuck up in the back and just kind of sat there. When service was over I couldn’t wait to talk to her. I thought for sure she was going to tell me how amazing the message was, that it was absolutely life-changing, rocked her world.
Because that’s what happens every week.
And so we went and found her after service, and she didn’t say anything about the message. She didn’t say anything about the music. She didn’t say anything about the lights. She looked at me and Coleen and with tears in her eyes she said, “When I walked in a greeter looked me in the eyes and said, ‘I’m so glad you’re here.’ So I haven’t felt like that in a really long time.” What was she describing? Family on a mission. Someone that gave her safety, value, and expressed love through eye contact.
That made her feel alive! Jesus says, “Oh Jerusalem! Jerusalem! How I long to gather you the way a hen would gather her chicks.” In other words, “How I long to bring you in and make you a family.” But he says, “You would have none of it.” He says, “I want to make you a family, but you would rather be an individual looking for consumption.” Family on mission turns the world upside down. And my hope and my prayer for us is that we would be deeply devoted to each other and deeply committed to the cause. And I realize there is nothing easy about that. It’s a cost; it’s a sacrifice; it’s inconvenient. It means you have to come early and stay late and talk to people and be bothered and probably get offended at some point. Like, who wants that? That’s called family!
And you’re like, “Well, If that’s family, I don’t want it.” No!
That’s where the Father’s heart reigns, where you’re healed and made whole, and all of the junk in you that offends everyone else gets rubbed off. The reason this is such – you can feel it this weekend. There’s like a charge in the air. The reason you can feel it is because Satan has destroyed our families. He has destroyed our families and so it’s changed how we view this family. If your family has been – if Satan has come to steal, kill and destroy your family and you say, “I don’t have safety, value, or expressed love in my home.” Then you show up here and you don’t believe this is family. You think sneak in late, sit in the back, don’t tell anybody who you are, don’t be known, don’t be exposed because you will be shamed and condemned. This is not safe, there is no value, and you will not be loved in this place.
Satan has convinced us to buy that lie. And so we live as individuals looking for consumption because Satan has stolen what God has come to recreate, a new Garden of Eden where sons and daughters live with the loving Father. And I realize it’s terrifying for most of us. One step in – “Jesus, I don’t know how to do this. I don’t even know if I believe it, but I’m going to step in and trust you. Make me a part of this thing you call family.” And so here’s how we’re going to close service together. We’re going to take communion. And so our ushers are going to get up. They’re going to grab the elements and start passing it out. And here’s what I’d ask you to do. Just set your stuff down for a moment.
And the reason we’re going to end this message with communion is because this is family. And so as the elements come passing by, when you take them here’s what I want you to understand. This is your adoption paperwork. This is your birth certificate, that you’re a part of the Father’s family. And so if you’re here and you don’t believe in Jesus, we would just ask that you would pass that plate along, but maybe today is your day where you say, “You know what? I do believe that he died and rose again for me.” Then you reach out and take a hold of this and you become part of this family. What you’re holding in your hands is your adoption paperwork. And in this moment when we take communion together, this is what unites us more than anything else. This is how we get united together and realize we’re a part of something bigger than ourselves.
That we don’t exist as an individual separated from the people around us; we exist as a family, united by the death of Jesus, in the Father’s family. And I know some of you, you still are struggling with this thought of, “My dad was so bad that I can’t possibly see the Father as good.” “Your dad was not the image of the Father,” Jesus says. And so what you’re holding in your hands, Jesus’ broken body and shed blood, is the image or the representation of the Father. Jesus did this, which reveals that’s the Father’s heart for you. That he was willing to be broken and poured out, so you could become part of a family.
So you could break off that orphan thinking and that individual life and that constant consumption and that focus on self and find purpose and abundance and thriving. I mean, in every family there are those moments where you gather together and you’re like, “Yes, this is family.” For some of us it’s that Christmas time when you gather with your family and everybody has ugly sweaters and somebody brought a fruitcake. But you’re like, “This is family.”
For some of us it’s Easter, and you get together and you have this little meal. And somebody is upset or somebody is drunk or whatever the thing is. But you’re like, “This is family.” For some of us it’s Thanksgiving and we get together and we have a turkey, and all the boys go hunting. It’s like, “This is family.” Okay, those are those moments where we look and we say, “This is family. Good or bad, this is what we have.” This is family.
This is complete forgiveness, total restoration, and the pursuit of a loving God who refused to allow you to remain on your own, but wanted you to be brought home. Don’t you want to come home? Don’t you want to come home? You’re going to have to do it by yourself. You don’t have to live on your own. You don’t have to convince anybody you are significant. This is family and this is home. On the night the Lord Jesus was betrayed after he had given thanks, he broke the bread and said, “This is my body, which is going to be broken for you.” He said, “I’m going to be broken, so that you can become part of my family, so that your family can be made whole.”
And so what I want us to do is, by faith, believe that Jesus is going to heal our own families and he is going to unite us into a big family. Can we by faith receive that together? And in the same way after the supper Jesus took the cup and he said, “This is the cup of the new covenant. My blood poured out for you. I’m going to be poured out, so you can be poured into it. I’m going to tear down all the walls that separate and all the things that divide, and all the things that make you scared. And I’m going to give you family, the very thing you were created for.”
Can we receive the adoption of the loving Father together? So Jesus, in this time and in this place we unite around your death and resurrection as the great unifier to say, “We’re family.” We’re a part of something bigger than ourselves. We’ve been healed and delivered and set free, and we say, “Would you unite us, Jesus?” Give us the courage to get past ourselves and the strength to connect in and be a part of this thing called family, called church. Change the way we think in this consumeristic, materialistic, individualistic world, so that we can change the way we live, as family on mission, with you. We love you, Jesus. In your name we pray. Amen.