Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Thursday, December 31, 2015
Family Relations - New Years Eve - December 31, 2015 - Text: (in the sermon)
This year during the season of Advent and following through to Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and finally, tonight, New Years Eve we have been addressing a topic that may not seem too tied to the season of Advent, we have been addressing the topic and/or issue of how doctrine and practice relate, that is how we do what we believe. Last week we took up the topic of evangelism. Does God prescribe how we should evangelize? And what should our evangelistic efforts look life, especially as we keep in mind what we believe, teach and confess and how that should be seen our evangelistic efforts. This evening we will address the subject of family relations. Does the Bible speak to us what our family relations should look like? If so, where and how?
Does the Bible speak to us about family relations? If so, where and how? Interestingly enough, if you read your Catechism, under the section of the Table of Duties we read Scripture passages which speak to the duties of the husband, the wife, the parents and the children. These are vocational duties, that is they tell us how we are to live in our vocations as husband, wife, parent and child. So, let us look at each section. And as we do look at each of these sections, please remember that the Scripture passages listed are not the only passages which address these topics. Later when you go home you might take out your Bible and look at the cross references and see the other passages which speak to this issue as well.
The table of duties speaks to husbands and lists these two passages, “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7). And “Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them” (Col. 3:19). To summarize the point of these two passages we might rightly say that God’s desire for husbands is that they are to be understanding of the wife and show her honor, they are to love their wife and not be harsh to them. I must admit I find it fascinating that although the Ephesians passage is listed under duties of wives, parents and children it is not listed here. The Ephesians passage reminds husbands that they are to love their wives as Christ loved the church, so much so that He gave His life for the Church. This is where I make note to young couples getting married that the husband is to be ready to die for His wife. Yet, perhaps the reason this passage is not mentioned is that for some husbands, and understand when I say what I am about to say the same difficulty applies to both parties, but for some husbands they might believe it easier to die for their wives than to live with them understanding, honoring and loving them. And again, that goes both ways.
Moving on, the table of duties speaks next to wives and lists these two passages, “Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord” (Eph. 5:22). And, “5For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening” (1 Peter 3:5-6). To summarize the point of these two passages we might rightly say that God’s desire for wives is that first and foremost they submit to their husbands. Now, before we have a revolt let me “unpack” that word that is translated as “submit.” I believe a better translation of the word translated as “submit” is the word “subordinate.” To be subordinate means to put yourself in order under, in other words, wives are to put their husbands first, and the passage from Ephesians goes on to say that she is to do this just as she puts God first in her life. The converse then is also true, that is that if she does not and cannot subordinate herself to her husband she is not and cannot subordinate herself to the Lord. Unfortunately we see many problems in our world today because wives fail to be subordinate and instead are insubordinate and husbands are not willing to die for, not understand, honor and love their wives.
Moving on, the table of duties speaks next to parents and lists this passage, “Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). To summarize the point of this passage we might rightly say that parents and more in particular, fathers are not to provoke their children to anger, but are indeed to discipline and instruct their children in the Lord. First and foremost the father’s duty is a spiritual and ethical duty, to raise Godly obedient, respectful children. God gives parents, especially the father the duty to impart their Christian faith into their children. Indeed, the education of all children begins in the home with the father teaching their children about Jesus. Perhaps if we were more diligent about this teaching we would not be losing so many children to the pagan culture outside the home. After all, our lives in this world are merely a moment compared to our real life of eternity in heaven.
Finally, the table of duties speaks to children and lists this passage, “1Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3“that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land” (Eph.6:1-3). To summarize this passage we might rightly say that children are to be obedient to their parents and they are to honor their father and mother. Certainly, this obedience and honor are something that must be taught and instilled into the children because children are conceived and born in sin and so do not naturally obey and give honor. Notice also that this passage does not specifically say that children are to love their parents and unfortunately too many parents in our world today shirk their responsibility to discipline and instruct under the false objection that they want their children to love them. As a father, I am not here to make my children love me. I cannot make anyone love me. Rather my responsibility and duty is to discipline and instruct them in the Lord and if I do discipline and instruct in the Lord I am quite confident that my children will eventually love me with a truly Godly love. And indeed, if I fail to discipline and instruct what will happen is that I will have hooligans for children who will probably hate me for their upbringing and miserable life.
As we look at these duties we can understand that our God is a God of order, good order. God has not given us the Ten Commandments and these words of His because He wants to take away our freedom and our creativity. God gives us the Ten Commandments and His word as boundaries because He loves us. What kind of a world would we have if there were no rules? Indeed, a world with no laws would be a chaotic world, even a world in which there would be no peace. Just as we as parents will tell our children to not play in the street, we do not tell them to not play in the street in order to stifle their creativity or take away their freedom, but we tell them to not play in the street because we do not want them to get run over, indeed it is because we love them, it is because we care about them, it is because we do not want them to be run over that we tell them to not play in the street. The same is true with us and God. God does not gives us boundaries because He wants to stifle our creativity or take away our freedom, but because He loves us, because He know what is best for us.
We are ending another year, another year which was a gift of a year of life from our loving God. As we look back over the year we can most certainly see where the good gift of boundaries from God have been crossed, ignored, and moved and we can see the consequences of what happened to those who have done so. So, as we begin a new year we want to look anew to our great God of love and we want to seek His help so that we may honor His boundaries and we may be blessed by Him. I often wonder what some people are thinking when we say we want to be blessed by God, but refuse to honor His commands and His word, even when they refuse His gifts by constantly absenting themselves from Divine Service and Bible Class. Perhaps as we come to understand God’s great love for us, that it is in love that He gives us boundaries for good order, then we might better be able to honor those boundaries, with His help of course, and see how we might be even more blessed by Him.
Above all, as we have been looking at how our faith is seen in our lives we continually remind ourselves that we get it right when we focus on Jesus. Jesus fully obeyed all of God’s commands perfectly and never sinned and He did this for us in our place because we could not and cannot. And now, by faith in Jesus, faith He gives to us, His obedience is credited to us as our being obedient, thanks be to God. So, even when we fail and we will and do fail, we know that we are forgiven and He is with us to help us as we try and try again. May the Lord be with you as you begin this next new year so that He might help you to be the person He wants you to be to the praise and glory of His Holy Name. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.