Thursday, October 02, 2008

Family of God

The Family of God

There's a popular hymn called the “Family of God.” Part of the chorus goes, “I’m so glad that I’m part of the family of God.” Now, we certainly are a part of the family of God, but often we picture this family as simply the people around us in church. And it is true that these are our brothers and sisters in the Lord, but what we might miss is that we brothers and sisters have been joined to the family of Jesus. And this Jesus is not only God but also a Jewish man, whose lineage can be traced back to David, Judah, and Abraham. We have been grafted into this family. We have been adopted into the family of Israel

Reading chapter by chapter through the Old and New Testaments in my churches, we're now in Leviticus. It’s amazing stuff, surprising and very down to earth. Just the other day we were reading about skin diseases: yellow or black hairs growing out of the leprous spot, itching, swelling, all these things and more. Woah! Kind of gross, but certainly down to earth! The subject of mildew or other diseases that can affect cloth or even houses also comes up, and that’s talked about just as frankly and realistically.

All this got me asking the question, what is the law? This talk of diseases, leprosy, mildew and mold, not to mention the intricate details of the making of the tent of meeting (Exodus 25), how exactly to offer the atonement sacrifice (Leviticus 8), what to eat (cows, goats ok) and what not to eat (shrimp, pork, not okay), what does it have to do with me? What does the law mean for me, a shrimp loving, pork eating girl who never even knew what a tent of meeting was before reading the Bible? What does this have to do with us average Gentile believers? There is a simple answer. The law is righteousness. It’s what’s right to do and it’s the way to attain life, even eternal life. As I write, I plan on sitting down to a nice pork chop later in the evening if at all possible, so what gives? Am I going against any hope of eternal life and doing what’s right? On the contrary. You and I, bacon lovers all, have been grafted into the family of
Israel by Jesus. Jesus brings us right back to that wilderness, that honeymoon time between God and his people (Hosea). Through Jesus, I attain that righteousness that the law aimed at. Through Jesus I have that eternal life that was the purpose and goal of the law. Both the Jew and the Gentile are brought to the back to the wilderness where God espoused his people to himself. Both Jew and Gentile are brought back to righteousness, brought back to health, wealth and well-being, grace and truth, but not by our own deeds but by the Lord Jesus who seeks and saves the lost. As other writers have pointed out, "Jesus makes us kosher." I do hope to have that pork chop later on and I will eat with joy and thanks because our beautiful savior Jesus makes me as clean and pure as crystalline water from a mountain river.

What does all this thing called the law have to do with me? It is home, the home of truth, the home of life, and God wants me to be there. I notice as read on in the Torah (the first five books of Genesis) that I am actually interested in this stuff. How come? How would any Gentile possibly become interested in these things that are so foreign to us? There’s only one reason; I have been awakened to it by the Lord, “Wake, O sleeper, rise from he dead and Christ with give you life.” Thinking about the chapters we are on now I can’t help but reflect that had I my own way, I’m sure I’d like to remain in la-la land the realm of ideas where things aren't messy, but God has woken me up to real life, the world where there are diseases and mildew, where you actually have to think about exactly how you are going to make that tent or house or bookcase, the real world where your feet on on the ground and your heart is with your fellow man and with
God, soaring to the heights of glory. All I have to say is that this Gentile, this woman who was sitting in darkness, thanks her Lord who brought her into the light, into the family of God. She is home.