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  • Writer's pictureWes Van Fleet

FAMILY WORSHIP: Part 3 - The Grand Story of Redemption

A STORY: When I was a new believer, I had found out that a friend I served in the Army with had become a believer as well. I flew up to Seattle to visit him and his family. I wasn’t married and didn’t have kids yet, but watching my friend with his kids was something that was seared into my memory forever. The way he and his wife would talk about Jesus throughout the day with their kids seemed natural, loving and purposeful. I specifically remember when their oldest daughter was being purposefully disobedient and sinful, the way my buddy disciplined her seemed absolutely foreign to me. I grew up in a non-Christian home where discipline was primarily punishment and was an outworking of anger. There was little to no good in it.

I watched my buddy gently describe her sin to her and how the cross tells her how serious her sin is. But he also reassured her that if she would repent, God would forgive her. He then told her to go in her room and wait for him. I could hear him explaining to her that he had to spank her because of her disobedience. He explained that he loved her and was doing this because he loved her. After a quick spanking, he sat her on his lap. He told her how much he loved her and he prayed with her. This whole scene was other-worldly to me. This was discipline, but it fit into the whole scope of what I saw throughout the week. I saw a family who made our Trinitarian God and his Grand Redemption the center of all they did as a family.

Family Worship is the regular rhythm of directing those in our family to the riches of God’s grace in everyday life. I am a first generation Christian. Family Worship was not something I grew up experiencing. As I looked out over the church the past few years, spent countless evenings in the homes of members, I have come to the conviction that family worship is something we don’t just fall into. It is something that must be taught and caught. Before I get to some more details on WHAT FAMILY WORSHIP IS (Next Week's Blog), I want to get to the WHY WE DO FAMILY WORSHIP

WHY FAMILY WORSHIP? We are a people that have been redeemed out of slavery and into the family of God. We are first and foremost a part of the family of God. We are sons of the Father, Christ is our elder brother, and we are filled and united by the Spirit of God. This is the foundation of our worship. Likewise, Israel was freed from slavery to Egypt and into the loving care of God. After this great redemption from slavery, Moses gives the greatest command in all of Scripture (known as the Shema), in Deuteronomy 6:4-5: “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. 5 You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

Now, immediately after this command to love God above everyone and everything else, Moses gives the application. We may think the application is to start a big ministry and get as many people to come as you can. We might think the application would be to write a blog or start an Instagram explaining how much we love God. But listen to the application: “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.” (Deut. 6:7-9)

Let’s take a couple minutes and make some general observations about what God is communicating in this passage:

-God places the responsibility of the teaching of children and the family on the parents.

-Teaching and enjoying God is something that is done throughout the day in the informal.

-God’s redeeming us and our love for him should be something near to us. 

-These things should not be hidden from the sight of others (missional).

-The love of God must start in the hearts of the parents and work outward to the rest of the family.

I encourage you all to read Psalm 78 sometime. It’s a fantastic Psalm that gives an example of Deuteronomy 6. Look at the first few verses: “Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! 2  I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, 3  things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. 4  We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.

The WHY to all of this is simply that God has ordained the family to be the place where his redemption of his people is rejoiced in from sun up to sun down. The WHY is that God Himself is entrusting his people to be a part of this GRAND STORY OF REDEMPTION. 

MEMBERSHIP INTERVIEWS ILLUSTRATION: One of my favorite things I get to do as one of your pastors is membership interviews. Over the years I have learned that the majority of people that grew up in Christian homes have told me of how they have known and loved Jesus from an early age, starting in seed form and growing into this beautiful blossoming tree that produces fruit. Most of these members have shared that it was through their parents raising them to know, love, and follow Jesus in everyday life. 

The book of Ephesians and its structure can help us better understand how God and the family intersect. Notice that chapters 1-3 are these ridiculously beautiful truths about our Triune God and what he has done to redeem us (read Eph. 1:3-14). One of the main applications of these amazing realities is seen in chapters 5-6. The applications are not, “move to another country” or “start an exciting new ministry,” but are:

-Spouses love one another in ways that remind each other of the good news of the Gospel.

-Children, obey your parents.

In his grace, God is working out his grand redemption story in the home.

It may sound ordinary and mundane, but I bet if you ask a parent with adult children one of the things they are most thankful for in this life, they will say, “That my kids are walking with the Lord.” 

This brings me to a quick but sobering point: We can make the Gospel a central part of our lives, we can love our kids, and we can do everything to the best of our ability and our kids may not walk with the Lord. Salvation is of the Lord, alone. But, this doesn’t negate the call and responsibility God has commissioned us as parents. Although the responsibility is high, we get to teach and model the great news of the gospel day in and day out to our kiddos. Can you believe we have been entrusted with such a joy-giving task?

Next week we will talk through some practicals of HOW to do family worship as well as the role of singles in family worship. -Pastor Wes

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