11.2 The Essence of Family
11.2 The Essence of Family
© 2016 Christ Revealed Bible Institute
The Essence of Family
I ended the last lesson with this assertion. I intend to show you that the Kingdom of God arising on this earth is a FREE society. And that a free society works only by the beating of a Heart. The development of these two assertions will unfold through many of the upcoming chapters.
Here, I want to address the claim of my title – “Christ as Community.” “Christ as a Corporate Body” is plain as one of the primary teachings of Paul; community itself seems to be not quite as apparent on the page. In this lesson, I am equating a “free society” with the concept of “family.” These two terms are speaking of the same thing.
Brothers and Sisters
Let us assume that you and I had grown up as brothers and sisters in the same home, a happy and good home with loving parents who showed us what real mothers and fathers are. Then, let us assume that I moved to a different country.
Years later, if I stopped by your home having been unable to let you know of my arrival, what would be my experience? Your doors would open wide to welcome me in, a room would be given me, the table would be set, and I would feel as at home as your own children. You would give me all that you have because we are family, and that’s just what families do.
Family is freedom, and freedom is family.
At Arm’s Length
Now, let’s assume that I am the same person and you are the same person, yet we have never met. I knock on your door. Will the response be the same?
Not in America, among Christians in America, I would typically be sent to a motel and taken out to eat. (There are always exceptions.) The American mind is to keep everyone at arm’s length. When I grew up in the Mennonite church, it was customary to invite other church families over to dinner or to be invited to their homes for dinner. Such a practice no longer exists among any Christians, good Christians, whom I know presently.
Some measure of community has always been the normal human experience and the normal Christian experience. Somehow, the spirit of this world today has eliminated such a mind-set almost entirely among God’s people.
In the move of God fellowship of which I was a part for many years, that was not the case. When I traveled across the country, no matter where I would be, I would find a small community in the countryside or in the city, or even a group of families not in community, though part of the fellowship. Regardless, their doors would open wide, a place would be set for us, and a room given us to spend the night. We were always at home.
In 1983, I drove up from Georgia to Detroit, Michigan with another brother. My parents had flown in from Oregon to visit our relatives in Michigan. We had communicated with the community house in the move fellowship there in Detroit that we were coming. Even though my parents were not part of that fellowship, they were as welcome as I.
Here we were, in downtown Detroit, a neighborhood that felt as unsafe as it was. We entered into a large house, one of two shared by the Detroit brethren. They were all African-American. We were family, and though we had never met, we knew one another in a common fellowship in the Lord. We were at home.
This quality of instantly knowing we are part of one another in the Spirit of the Lord, out from a shared devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ, is part of what I mean by “family.”
Now, there were three reasons I trusted these people I had never before met in inner-city Detroit, and three reasons why they trusted me fully, even to include my parents. First, we both had a shared experience of living in community, different in expression, but the same in heart. Second, we shared a hearing of the same word of the revelation of Jesus Christ. And third, we both shared a commitment to walk together under the same apostolic ministry or covering.
That third point is the sticky point – apostolic covering. I will expand on it just a bit more later on. Here, I place before you the strong verses of the early church.
And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers (Acts 2:42). – And when they (the apostles) had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness. – And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all (Acts 4:31 & 33).
Catching a Glimpse
I said previously that Jesus had not prepared His disciples to be the heart of the church. Let me qualify that statement. Jesus had prepared His disciples to be the heart of that early church, a church set before us to catch a glimpse of what God means by the fulfillment of Tabernacles. Yet before that Tabernacles Church could come in fullness, the gospel must be spread across the whole earth.
Let’s get back to family. God, in the beginning, is family, and God reveals Himself, that is Father, just being Himself, through the essence of family. I want to share with you my knowledge of family out from my years of experience in Christian community.
Sharing Life Together
Family is the joy and the value of sharing in one another’s lives. In fact, sharing life together with individuals and family groups who are not related by blood possesses a quality and a value that is not found in any natural family.
In the move communities, personal and family privacy were always (almost) honored. I use the word “almost” because I know that mistakes were certainly made.
I loved most the gathering around many tables at least twice a day to share our meals together. The conversation, the laughter, the sharing of daily episodes, the being together – no price can be placed upon such value.
Knowing God AND His People
I will qualify what I am sharing with this statement. Most of my memories of good community experience come from my time at the Blueberry Community from 1986 to 1993 with good things added from the other eleven years. God and good things were there through all of my community experience, but not all such community life was successful as family. One community I was a part of for a year-and-a-half was closed down by the ministry of the move because it was not successful.
God spoke to me this morning, “I took you through all of these things so that you might know My Word throughout, and the experience of all My people from the beginning.”
I want to share three specific things with you in order to convey, somehow, what family is and means, how we become family together, through the experience of life together. First, I want to talk about two specific brothers, Brian Dwyer and Rick Annett, both of whom lived at Blueberry, but Rick and his wife Shirley also lived with us at Blair Valley, my last year-and-a-half in move community.
Brian and I were a pair, that is, a pair of knuckleheads who were always butting heads. Brian’s area of work was typically operating the heavy equipment while mine was in leading the construction projects. We were very different in how we worked, yet we were both very successful at what we did.
Often in Dispute
Let me give an example. It was late fall, just before the snows would come. We had to complete a job on our root cellar in a short time, thus many men came to do that task. I put Brian on the most essential job because I knew I could count on him to do it right. We all were in slurried mud almost to the top of our mud boots, working all day in a rush. We finished just before supper. I was covered from head to foot with mud. Brian had no mud on either his clothes, his skin, or his tools. That’s how different we were. We saw and did everything differently. And we often disputed how something should be done.
I saw Brian as a bully; I am certain he saw me as the same.
So Much Shared Together
Yet Brian and I lived and worked together for many years. We shared so much of family life together (though we never lived in the same house.) We experienced the awesome glory of God together and shared in many wrenching difficulties endured by the whole community. Although we never became outward “buddies,” by the end of my time at Blueberry in 1996, we held a strong respect for one another in our hearts. We had shared so many things.
I last saw Brian after we had both left the move, in 1999, I think, at a Promise Keeper’s conference in Edmonton. I saw on his face the same desire to know the Lord as was in my heart, a wistful longing out of deep and wrenching sorrow, the same as on my own face.
Knowing One Another
I know Brian Dwyer, and he knows me. I know his outer person with all its prickliness and bullheadedness, and he knows my outer person with all its prickliness and bullheadedness. And I know Brian’s heart, broken with years of difficulty and joy, desiring to know the Lord Jesus. I believe he also knows the same heart in me.
I also worked with Rick Annett, though not as much or through as difficult of tasks as with Brian. Rick is the kind of guy who gets along with everyone and makes everyone feel warm and welcomed. Yet I knew Rick in a much closer togetherness at Blair Valley.
Do It My Way
One day, in the fall of 1997, Rick and I were working together sawing a pile of logs into firewood. I am very efficient minded in my approach to work and am always thinking of ways to do anything better and faster. There is a way of attacking a pile of logs with a chainsaw that is faster and more efficient that any other way.
Rick was sawing, while I was pulling the pieces of firewood off and stacking them, but he was not doing it “efficiently.” During a pause, I told him how he “should be doing it.” Rick stopped deliberately and said, “I know, Daniel, that you are faster than I am, but this is how I do it, this is me. And this is the way I do it.”
Discovering Great Treasure
Rick may not have realized it, but his words were God’s final surgical cut by which He removed from my heart the last shred of need to make other people “do it my way.” It had taken God twenty years of my life in the move fellowship to accomplish that task, twenty years of treating other people poorly and enduring the same myself.
If God ever takes you into Christian community, the greatest enemy that community will face is your need to make other people do it your way.
But then, we turn around. And what do we discover? There is no greater treasure than other people and all their many peculiar and different ways of doing things; it is family.
A Cold Winter’s Night
Let me share with you an experience that Brian Dwyer and I both shared while I was attending college at Blueberry – I was around thirty. The young people decided to spend the night together on a sort of campout in the greenhouses on a cold winter’s night. We gathered together for fun and games soon after supper. There were no elders present, something unusual for move community; thus we were free not to put on our “elders-are-here” masks. Someone came up with an idea for a game. We would go around the circle from one person to the next and everyone in the circle would say what they appreciated and valued about the selected individual.
When we began, it was fun. But by the second or third person, with every one in the circle sharing the good things they appreciated about that person, something Holy came upon us, something God. We continued on, not wanting to leave anyone out, and did not finish the circle until about 1 AM. Afterwards we abandoned the idea of braving the cold and went back to our homes, carried in a sense of having tasted the reality of Christ, the very purpose for the entire community.
Of all the people there, the one I remembered most was Brian and the wonderful things he had to say, especially concerning those whom he knew the best.
Family Is Real
We were family, and our life together was real. And I look around me at all the many Christians in this great city, and I see their experience as the church together so shallow and so disconnected. Their knowledge of Jesus cannot be any greater than their life together as His body.
Our knowledge of Jesus cannot be any greater than our life together as His body. Please don’t misunderstand me, wherever we might be, our life is Christ living now as us, and He does all things well.
Yet I place Christ as Community, Christ as family, before you as an anchor, a certain and sure goal, the revelation of Father.