by: Kyle McClendon
By: Greg McGaha, Sharon Church Student Pastor
May this blog begin with John the Baptist’s quote to his own disciples found in John 3:30. “He (Jesus) must become greater; I (Greg) must become less.” There is nothing good in me apart from the grace afforded me at the Cross. This grace to have received the infusion of the Spirit of the living God inside my earthy vessel. To know my family is to know we are a family filled with very real people that are on a journey stumbling forward in life with Jesus. We have taken many personal detours and family detours along the road. In the end we are further along in Christ than last year or the year before.
Let us unpack the gospel found in Ephesians 5 and 6 with regards to family. But, we will start with the beginning of Ephesians 5 and the end of Ephesians 6 to act as bookends to the middle in regards to family life.
There are many things mentioned in the beginning of chapter five that we are not to align our lives with. I was not raised in church and I walked in darkness. When I encountered Christ it was evident that the things I had busied myself with led to death. Even my light was yet darkness. A sort of quasi-good with intentions of receiving something for myself through them. (Contract good and not a Covenant good). Christ showed me a new way, a way of submitting to Him and dying to my own selfish desires. A way of long suffering and serving others first that allows people know they are valued. Thank you Jesus for teaching by example and helping me to follow you in like that others can see you in me.
living with right focus
For me the crux of Ephesians 5 is found in verses 8-10. To get rid of counterfeit living you must study the only authentic life ever lived. Jesus was God in the flesh and lived the life we are to emulate and strive to walk in sameness. Let us then step into His light and Study His Word which is a light unto our feet. As seen in Ephesians 5:8-10, striving for this we will be able to discern the things we should strive to accomplish in our day to day living. Lord, allow me to understand you more through your word and example, and help me recognize the difference between real and counterfeit living. Lord, may I receive the abundant life as I walk upon the narrow path that few find. Through my time in your word and your presence may I learn more how to recognize your voice.
Ephesians 5: 8-10 "8 for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light 9 (for the fruit of light is found in all that is good and right and true), 10 and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord."
Lord, I know that Satan masquerades like an angel of light and will try to feed us partial truths to lure us into a grey area. But his true intention leads to full darkness. Lord we once were your enemies and lived as such. Help us to walk in light and be ready for the ways of the evil one. Lord we know that there are good works you have prepared for us in advance, and yet the evil one desires to busy us with other things.
And this leads us to the other bookend for our scripture.
understanding the enemy
The other bookend for us is found in Ephesians 6:10-20, and in here we see that Paul is writing as an ambassador in chains. Paul shares about the author of all the chaos and fighting in our visible world. The author is not people that stand before us in the flesh. If we do not catch this simple truth, then our retorts will always be one upping others. Fighting fire with fire. Repaying evil with evil. The ones closest to us always seem to be the most difficult to show grace and love to. Showing grace to other believers and even family members can be hard. These people should not be hurting us, and we seem to take a higher offense that “they” are coming after us.
Yet in the truth Paul shares, it is Satan himself that desires to tear the church and families apart. He will spread hurt for hurt and desire to rip apart as a lion would when seeking to devour its prey. He is cunning and is letting us do his work when we do not adhere to Paul’s words found in these verses. To daily feast upon the Lord and ask Him to guide us and our family to see as He sees. To guard our hearts and the hearts of our loved ones so that we can extinguish His fiery darts. These darts seem too often to come from a mouth of our loved ones. Lord in all this allow us to be quick to listen and slow of speech. I especially like Ephesians 6:15 “and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.” Jesus Himself is the Prince of peace, and Paul is sharing with us to prepare ourselves to be ready to use our feet for the sake of peace!
Lord help me to be intentional each day. May I lace up peace so I can respond like you did while I was your enemy. Please make me a conduit of peace in my family and your church! Lord, allow me to see what is going on behind what is going on. Help me to pray and love on those that hurt me. Make this especially true in my family and your church.
And this perfectly frames out what it will take to have any hope in our world that is falling apart. At times, there seems to be no difference between His church and the world in this matter. Is God not capable to protect His sacred institution of the family any longer? He is more than capable, He is more than willing, and He is waiting upon us to invite Him into the messy middle of daily family life.
the gospel in our family
This brings us to the family unit. Not just any family unit. The mess that makes up the McGaha Clan. If you think we have it all together you are gravely mistaken. We have faced many trials along the journey. Every family has them, and in this life outside of Eden that will always be. Ask any member of our clan, and you will quickly know that all of us have felt like an island in our own home at one point or another. Our feelings are a gift from God but can also be an instrument of Satan in ruining relationships. They should be used to help us be aware of something about our surroundings or relationships.
We then need to bring those to the Lord and plead with Him to help us navigate them internally and then externally. Unfortunately many of us are quick to speak. We may apologize, but we may never remove the scar. With the same tongue we praise God then we sometimes speak poorly to our loved ones. Lord slow my speech, allow me to come to you and exchange my yolk for yours so that I will not try to put it upon another. In dealing with a spouse or in dealing with children/parents. The directives are very clear:
Wives are to submit and respect their husband. Husbands are to love your wives as Christ loved the Church. Children are to obey and honor their parents. Fathers are not to provoke their children to anger but love them through discipline and instruction of the Lord.
There it all is—pretty simple looking at it. Let me confess the McGaha clan has failed miserably on many occasions. Rachael does not submit to me on anything related to decorating. I have hurt Rachael with my mouth and actions more than I can count. Loving her like Christ is the mark I strive for daily, yet like Paul says I know what I should do, but I find myself doing the other. Have I exacerbated my children? Yes. Do my kids fight and does one usually feel left out? Yes.
Hope in covenant communion
Here is the one thing that we have going for us. Rachael and I decided a long time ago that divorce is not an option. We are committed to God and His marriage. We are striving to grow in understanding Covenant and show an example to our children. Our house is filled with love. It may feel different from day to day. But we strive that truths be known in our house, and these truths are that we love God and we love each other. Even when we discipline it is out of a desire to help and not hurt. Do I or we sometimes cross a boundary? Yes, and then we have to reconcile for overstep.
We might get it right one day. I doubt it, but we strive to get closer. Maybe we’ll be able to show our grandkids a better example of a Gospel-centered marriage one day down the road? I hope so.
But, if you made it this far please know that change happens when obedience begins. Your marriage is not perfect, your partner is not perfect, your parents are not perfect, your children are not perfect. And none of this excuses any of us from the pursuit! Pursue the Lord daily and allow Him to make you the change your family and church needs for growth.
Jesus died for a time such as this in your life. God show us the next step, and give us the courage to take a step…