When I think of my childhood, the one word that comes to mind is selfishness. Being the oldest brother, at the age of six, I felt that my age demanded respect and submission. Every aspect of my brothers lives revolved around me.
When we were living in Colorado, I remember forcing my brothers to put my car tracks together. But then they could only watch as I played. I told them that they were not to wander off, but rather to sit and watch me play.
I also remember playing “pretend church.” And of course, I took up an offering. What few pennies my infant to four year old brothers had, I told them that they should give their money to God by giving it to me. And as the devil is my witness, they did.
As we reach this final article in our brief discussion on Living Worship In the Home, I cannot help but admit that I have not thought much on this specific article topic before. So I apologize if my thoughts are still immature in their understanding of gospel-centered whole-life worship.
However, if our prayer is to keep Christ at the center of every relationship, then it only makes sense that we should explore how the relationship between siblings can be viewed as a model of the gospel in this world for magnifying the supremacy of God and for making disciples.
1. We have been adopted as brothers and sisters of Christ.
“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear,
but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons,
by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness
with our spirit that we are children of God,
and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.”
This week, a family in our church is flying to the village of Sodo, Ethiopia to adopt two young boys. The picture shown below is of the village where the boys are coming from. When Emily, the mother of the family, first saw that picture she asked a friend, “Is that really Sodo?” Her friend replied, “Yes Emily- you will see- you will see how the people live- they have nothing- you will see how bad it is- you will see how lucky these two boys are.”
In just two weeks, Yabsera and Maren will be rescued from the slums of Ethiopia, and adopted by a loving, wealthy Christian family in our church.
What a great illustration of how God gives us hope and reconciliation through the gospel of adoption. When we were orphans enslaved to fear, God made us His children. And now, we are “heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ.” In other words, we are sons of God, and brothers and sisters of Christ.
2. We must respond in faith by modeling our sibling relationship with Christ in how we relate to our earthly siblings.
“I therefore…urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called…Therefore, be imitators of God, as beloved children. And walk in love, as Christ loved us, and gave Himself up for us.”
–Ephesians 4:1; 5:1-2
We have been called through the gospel to be the brothers and sisters of Christ. Because of that, Paul insists that we live our lives in a way that is worthy of that adoption. And thus, God tells us to imitate Him, “as beloved children.”
The phrase, “as beloved children,” is an illustration to us of how we imitate God. Perhaps you parents can remember how your children use to imitate you. When I was younger, I wanted to do everything just like my dad did. Even before I could read, I remember “reading” the newspaper. In fact, I even remember asking my dad when we could read the newspaper again.
Just as beloved children long to imitate their parents, we should long to imitate God as His children. And being God’s “children,” we must logically assume that we have brothers and sisters in Christ. Therefore, we should respond in faith by modeling our sibling relationship with Christ in how we relate to our earthly siblings.
The primary way that we express this part of the gospel is through Christ-centered, sacrificial love. I opened this article up by saying, “When I think of my childhood, the one word that comes to mind is selfishness.” Isn’t it amazing that the first way that Paul tells us to imitate God is to “walk in love, as Christ loved us, and gave Himself up for us”?
Christ loved His brothers and sisters so much that He laid down His life for us. Rather than expecting us to always treat Him perfectly, He lived the perfect life in our place that we could never live. And when we committed crimes against Him that were worthy of death, He died in our place, so that we could be His brothers and sisters. And now, He graciously shares with us all that He owns.
I pray that you will take this opportunity to examine your relationships with your brothers and sisters. Have you been living in Christ-centered, sacrificial love in response to your gospel adoption? Or have your relationships been primarily dominated by selfishness?
If you are a parent, I would encourage you to talk this over with your children. It is important for them to understand that their relationship goes far deeper than just sharing a bedroom and parents. It is rooted in their sibling relationship with Christ. We should not admonish our children to share their toys simply because it is what you are supposed to do. But we should tell them to share their toys because Christ has shared all that He owns with us. We should not admonish our children to speak kindly towards each other simply because it is not nice to say bad words. But rather, we should tell them to speak kindly towards each other because that is how Christ speaks to us.
I hope that this series on Living Worship In the Home has been as encouraging to you as it has been to me. This is what life is all about—responding by faith to the gospel through living worship in the gospel.
I would also like to thank all of you who have sent me uplifting e-mails over the last few months. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to reply to everybody. But I hope to soon. After a few more short posts, I am going to begin a new series on Living Worship In the Workplace. Feel free to contact me with any questions that you would like to have addressed. I am looking forward to exploring with you all how we can respond to gospel by living worship at work.