As Diana and I were beginning our family and multiplying boy after boy in our household, this was the time that James Dobson was probably at his personal peak of ministry on the subject of the Christian family. I was always struck by how much he wrote and taught about the specific topic of dealing with sibling rivalry and conflict. My memory at the time was that though this might happen in other homes, our kids would always love one another and get along especially well.
Did I ever tell you the story about the hammer that went flying through the air? Or about the time one boy accidentally punched another at the dinner table, and then when he realized he drew blood from the older sibling, he ran? The wounded brother immediately took off after him with me in third place. Being younger at that time and before osteoarthritis was my residual reality, I was able to ankle tackle the older before he killed the younger.
Truthfully, our boys were probably less combative with one another than is the reality in most families, but there was enough to make me grow to understand why Dobson wrote so much about it. Now that they are grown, they often get together and do things with one another, truly caring deeply as brothers. And that always warms my heart.
As a parent, you love your kids – all of them deeply and all of them the same. And so it hurts to see them not love each other. Why wouldn’t they understand this and feel this, you think. God loves his kids – his chosen ones in the church family, and it grieves him to see them be less than fully loving and committed to each other.
And let me tell you of another entity that loves everyone and is grieved when people can’t get along and therefore get into scuffles large and small … and that is pastors and church leaders … people like the Apostle Paul, for example.
There is no major theme that is blatantly evident in the letter of Paul to the Ephesians. But when you read through it, you cannot help but see how much Paul draws their attention toward God’s love for them, and therefore of the love and commitment they should have for one another. Though the church at Ephesus had much about which to be commended, apparently there was yet some ground for them to cover in terms of deep relationships.
As a church, Tri-State has always been one that most often has excelled in loving relationships and interpersonal commitments. But we can do better; we can be better; we can yet grow more in this regard. And it is good to be reminded that intentionality in this matter is not inappropriate. So here are some passages that Paul wrote to remind his friends in Ephesus of this truth, and may the Spirit remind us again as well …
Ephesian 1:4 – For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
4:1 – As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. 2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.
5:1 Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children 2 and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.