[NOTE: If you’re following this 3-part rambling, you’ll know it is from a response I gave to a good dad in our church who felt that perhaps he was committing idolatry because he sacrificed so much for his family and loved them so intensly and actively. So he wrote me, and much of what follows about “actually spiritual families” is my encourgement to him.]
#2: The actually spiritual family knows that when they are sacrificing for and being with one another, they actually are doing ministry. And yes, as they do life and ministry together, often many others outside their family are helped. Impacted. But the actually spiritual family doesn’t have to leave their family to start doing things for the Lord; they just keep on doing things for the Lord even when they’re not with each other. In other words, it’s a lifestyle of worship and service, which sometimes they do together, other times apart.
Actually spiritual families don’t compartmentalize; they integrate. All those sacrifices for and time with your family is right where God wants you, as the man that your family needs, to be. You don’t go to church so you can finally worship; you don’t go to your small group so you can finally grow; you don’t help in the Jr. High so you can finally serve someone. Truth is, you are worshiping God when you love your family. You are growing when you teach your kids the Bible and show them how to pray. You are serving God when you help your child learn how to treat others and get along with his/her siblings. And you simply keep on doing these things when you get to do them with other Christians who aren’t in your physical family (i.e., at church).
It’s legalistic and hypocritical families who think they have to wait to do spiritual stuff till they are in other places with other people who aren’t in their family. Give me a break!
Hear me well – should we still go to church? Grow in other group settings? Serve other people? By all means! These are legitimate, biblical expectations for God’s sons and daughters. My point is that actually spiritual families know that those things occur at home as well as away from home, and they know you don’t have to always go somewhere else (like to the church building) to worship, grow, and serve.
I’ll cut to the chase, _______. Your family isn’t your idol, because God is honored when you raise kids who love their mom, siblings, and Jesus, and the best way to do that is by doing what you described in your email (putting their needs first, playing and not working your life away, laughing together, loving your wife, etc). Paul said we are “worse than infidel” when we neglect and avoid taking care of our family. So the actually spiritual family sees their whole life as an offering to God – worship 24/7 no matter where we are or what we’re doing! So relax and have some decaf – God is probably saying, “Thanks for working with me in your sanctification.”
On a side note, I think one of the reasons you felt something wasn’t quite right (when you were in church listening) was because sometimes we think that every week in church needs to end with conviction (I probably make people think that too often in my own zeal for certain ones to repent). But often a week with the body of Christ ends in affirmation. God will many times simply bring a word of edification to a member of the body as his way of saying, “I’m accomplishing my work in you; don’t quit.” Looks like to me that’s what happened yesterday to you, ____. Way to go!