WHO CAME FIRST?
Before there were kingdoms or empires, before governments or sovereigns, states and tribes there were families. No matter the meta-narrative (or grand story of the universe) you ascribe to, you have a mother and a father.
Thankfully, our science hasn’t quite ‘progressed’ to the imagination of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World where children are “created, ‘decanted’ and raised in hatcheries.”
If you are reading this, take heart, for you weren’t born in a hatchery. Memories of family past might be isolated to pain but it’s a human pain because you are human and have a family.
The idea of family instigates a whole host of emotions, ranging from nostalgic to ambivalent to bitter. That fact alone testifies to the sheer power and influence of our families.
Although it’s tempting to do so, I’m not writing to reignite the Moral Majority’s argument for defining a family. That definition is far more contextually and culturally defined than most Southern Evangelical’s are willing to admit.
I am writing to affirm one truth: that the family unit is the seed-bed and proving ground for our understanding of life itself. The story starts with family.
Yeah…it’s that big of a deal.
So who came first? The family did. The Trinity itself testifies to a familial pattern: Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Argue with that.
SO WHAT IS THE (IN)VISIBLE KINGDOM?
Renovatus Church recently started a new series based on Paul’s letter to the Colossians. This new series is called (in)Visible Kingdom.
Paul wrote to a group of Christians who were living in an empire where Caesar was exalted to godhood. They lived in a tension where faith in Caesar was as justified as faith in Christ.
We live in a similar culture where faith in state, government and even church are tempting replacements for our faith in Christ. Welfare, social security and gym memberships are our society’s new sacraments or means of grace.
Our families live in a tension between the visible kingdoms of this world and the invisible kingdom of the world to come. That invisible kingdom is sometimes hard to see while in the 9-5 rat-race, the toy section of Wal-Mart, listening to the top 40 Billboard hits, studying divorce rates, affected by the epidemic of pornography, etc.
We need an alternative to what’s visible…
HOW DO WE MOVE FROM VISIBLE TO (IN)VISIBLE?
Paul’s task wasn’t to remove the families of Colossae from the Roman Empire. There was no Branch Davidian or Kool-Aid to drink. There was no scarlet letters and no Christian Broadcasting Network.
Instead, Paul set out to help the Colossians re-imagine alternative ways of being/doing “family”. He did this in three basic ways:
- He sought to move them from faith in Caesar to faith in Christ. Tell your children “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.“
- He sought to move them from a religion about Jesus to a relationship with Jesus. Remind your family, “human commands and teachings…have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value…”
- He sought to bind the family in love: “clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.“
Moving from visible to (in)visible isn’t easy. The chips are stacked against you. Hollow and deceptive philosophies wait to take you captive. Caesar’s still around.
To help you over the next few weeks, devotions will be available to the families of Renovatus. These devotions will help families dive deeper into Paul’s letter to the Colossians.
Lean into these devotions, lean onto each other and trust in the sovereignty of Christ. The visible pain of family past will soon be transformed into the (in)visible witness of God’s faithfulness.