Thursday, January 27, 2011

American Idol Part Three: Herd It Through the Grapevine

After just a few weeks of our bible study on idols a lot of us have been unpleasantly surprised by the long line of golden calves we've become aware of in our own lives. The "cow parade" is turning out to be rather lengthy and it has become very apparent what a barnyard we've made of our lives.

Just like the face of this bull, we got up close and personal yesterday with how we turn marriage, children, and family into idols when God has given those to us for His own perfect purposes. Consider a few of God's purposes:

Man's role in marriage is meant to express the headship of God and love of Christ for his church. Headship and authority is revealed in Genesis as God instructs Adam to provide, protect, and bear responsibility in every way for subduing the earth and the well-being of his family. Then Paul writes in Ephesians that the husband is to do so in such a sacrificial way that he is a picture of Christ's love for the church even unto death.

Woman's role in marriage is to be a helper complementary and suitable for her husband, complementary meaning equal in value to, but with a differing role. God fashioned woman for man as there was no other creature suitable for him. Wives fill a role in the family or "little kingdom" and in marriage that no one or nothing else can fill.

The union of a man and woman in marriage is to be a living illustration of the unity of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. Paul writes in Eph. 1:10 that God's overarching purpose for humanity is "to bring all things in heaven and earth under one head." Marriage is to imitate the perfect and purposeful oneness of the Godhead.

Children are the means God designed as the way of fulfilling His promise in Genesis to send a Savior through the seed of the woman. There had to be babies so that Jesus could come.

Children are a living picture of the fruitfulness of the oneness of marriage.

Children provide for the family the context of the "little kingdom" that reflects the design and purpose of the larger kingdom. Children are the primary means through which God's covenant kingdom grows and is the primary training ground for ministry.

Then just like a stack of counterfeit bills, we turn marriage and children into something of our own making with the intention of dishonest use or gain. Idolatry. How? Read the life of Isaac, Rebecca, and their family from Genesis 25-30. Then consider these:
*Each parent preferred one child over the other to further his or her own agenda. When we favor one child over another it generally has to do with the fact that that child some how "props up" our sense of well-being. The child who is easy to get a long with, bright, talented, or emotionally connected gets the preferential treatment because it does something for ME.
*Isaac and Rebecca were not shown to be effective disciplinarians. We don't fail to discipline our children because we love them too much. We don't discipline our children because at the time they most need it we generally find something else more suitable or valuable at the moment. Usually convenience. We love ourselves and our desires more at the moment.
*Isaac and Rebecca trusted in their own plans for their sons instead of God's sovereign purposes. Both parents manipulated and ultimately destroyed their family through their self-dependence and scheming. To chart the course and to manipulate the future of a child without regard to God's sovereign plan is to steal that child's life.
*Jacob placed all his hopes for healing the past and securing his future on Rachel. If we marry with the hope of our spouse being the healing balm for all that has gone wrong or the absolute hope of all comfort and security, we place a burden on him that by nature he is unable to bear.
*If we marry with the hope of finding validation and identity in traditional family values alone, we will be miserable without husband or child. Like Marvin Gaye sang in the song, "Losin' you would end my life you see 'cause you mean that much to me." No human relationship can bear the burden of Godhood.

Who can? God through Christ.
*Jesus became the man that nobody wanted so that you would be forever wanted.
*Jesus came to his own people and they did not receive him in order to create a family that cherishes you.
*Jesus became forsaken so that you would never have to be.
As Tim Keller says, why do we keep trying to find redemption in others when we already have been redeemed through Jesus Christ? We don't need to make anyone else our savior (or try to be a savior for them) because we already have a Savior in Christ.

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