Sermon: “Defining Family”
Rev. Glenn G. Grant
Kirkridge Presbyterian Church
Transcription from July 31, 2022
Sermon transcription is automatically generated. Please forgive any grammatical errors.
There's been much said in the news over the past several months, especially about how you define a family. Now that's not the terms, anybody's putting it in. They're putting it about what we're teaching in our schools and what's being experienced out in public. But it really is about how we define family.
And sometimes it really needs to be where we take all of that noise and set it aside and look at how scriptures define family. And our passages today both are focused on that. Now you may not have realized it when Larry was reading from Hosea, but God is talking about Israel, whom he had raised up and loved as a child and brought him out of Egypt and called him my son.
Well, if that's not family, I'm not sure what it is. And God talks about how Ephraim and Judah have drawn away. And every time God calls him, they turn and go further away, and they worship the bowels. God is ready to punish them. Doesn't sound like a parent to you, does it? You know, when your kids do the exact opposite of what you're telling them to do, you would never punish them, would you?
Not much. And so, we can identify at that point with God as a parent, loving their child enough to punish them. And yet God turns around and says, I can't, I can't ignore what's going on, but by the same token, I can't walk away from them, and I will bring them back and I will bring them back into their own land and restore the relationship.
So, we have this wonderful example of this loving parent, that in spite of how bad their kids have been and how much they've misbehaved God is that loving parent is still going to bring them back in and love them.
Then we turn over to Luke and we have a different situation in a family. We have a son who is gone to his sibling, and I can tell you it was his older sibling. And the reason I know it was his older sibling was because the laws of inheritance were very strict. The oldest son got half, and then the rest was divided between any other siblings from there on down. And so, this young man is going to his older brother and saying, share your inheritance with me.
You know, the law already said how much inheritance he would get, but he wants more. He wants more. And Jesus then turns around and uses a parable to explain to people what's really going on here. You see, it's not about family. It's not about loving. It's about wanting more. It's greed, outright greed, and that's not what families are about.
And we get down through this parable and you've got a farmer that's really successful. His crops are coming in bumper crops, and he has not enough space to store them. And so, he decides he's gonna tear down his barns and put up bigger ones to keep all his food in. Well, I don't know about the rest of you, but in most of the places I've ever lived in my life, if you took the time to tear down a barn and build up a new one, it's too late for that year's crops anyway. They've already spoiled.
But here he wants to hold on to all of this abundance so that he can sit back then and say, ah, soul, take it easy, eat, drink, be merry. You, you're set. You're set for life. And again, this is not family because he is focused on himself. Whereas what Jesus has been trying to teach people is that your focus needs to be on the welfare of all.
Why did we pick a farmer? Why did we pick an abundance of crops for this parable? I think he picked the farmer with an abundance of crops because this was an area that was frequently seen to have famine or feast, which is obviously the case here. But you had a lot of folks who weren't farmers and didn't have the access to food other than what they could glean from the land.
And so, Jesus is setting up this parable as a way of saying here you have all this abundance, what good are you doing with it? What good are you doing with it now? I don't know how many of us were dreaming of what you would do with $1.2 billion lottery winnings. Even if you took the cash-out option of $757 million.
I mean, you know, face it, we've all had those dreams, you know, if somebody gave me the winning mega millions lottery ticket, I wouldn't complain. Right?
But Jesus is taking that kind of thinking and saying, but what good are you doing with your abundance? What good are you doing? Because if you're not doing good with it, you are not treating all of God's children as your family.
Ah, there it is right there. Who's part of our family? How do we define family? Is it only our, you know, those that were related to by blood? Or maybe those that are adopted? Maybe those that were related to tangentially because we married somebody that's related to somebody they married? Or is family, all of those that we care about and all those that care might care about us?
I would argue that God's definition of family is all those that we should be caring about. And that is reinforced over and over again through the gospels, who is my neighbor? Am I my brother's keeper? It's over and over throughout scripture, that God's idea of family is those that we are supposed to be caring about and those that are supposed to be caring about us. We're all God's children which makes us siblings.
And so, who is this person in this parable worried about? It's Jesus preaching against a self-centeredness and greed that says, okay, this is all mine. MINE! It's like the seagulls, you know, in Finding Nemo, mine, mine, mine.
It's all mine is what this guy is saying. I'm going to hold onto this and then I don't have to worry about anything else again. And God says you fool your life tonight is being required of you. Who's then is it? Who's then is it, you know, in this day and age in Michigan, if you pass away and you don't have a will, it's all the states, it all belongs to the state.
So whose is it? What is your abundance and what is it doing?
And we can do things like, oh, we can set up wills. We can set up trusts. We can say, we can tell people that this is what we want, but if we don't do anything to make that official, we really haven't done anything. Or we could not even wait. And we can say, okay, I can do something now.
When I go to the grocery store this afternoon, I can buy a flat of canned vegetables and put 'em down the hall for fish, or a few boxes of cereal.
All the stores have their back-to-school supplies out, yes second week of July, last week of July, whatever this week is, I lost a couple of weeks. The last week of July, all the school supplies are out. Yeah. I can throw a box of crayons or a box of pencils in my cart. You see, you don't have to do great things to show your care for God's family.
We can do it in all those little ways. Have you ever been in the grocery store line and the person in front of you is very obviously counting and watching the total as it rings up, and then they set a few things aside because they've run out of money? You can do something about that if you want, or you can be like this farmer.
if you have the ability to help and you don't, you are like the farmer in this parable, and that's a scary thing for Christians because we don't want to just put ourselves out there. You know, we're Presbyterians, we're frozen chosen, we can't do that! You know, that would put us on the same page as those people that go around knocking on the door, saying, have you been saved today?
Because, oh, heaven forbid I don't want to interfere in somebody else's life or make them feel like I was listening in, on their conversation with the cashier at the grocery store. I don't wanna embarrass them.
But it is an embarrassment to have somebody say, just go ahead and get them anyway. I'll pay for 'em. Or is it an embarrassment to not be able to feed your family because you didn't have enough?
Put yourself in their shoes, which way would you rather have it? And then think about how we define family, not just our own individual families, our nuclear families, our extended families, but our family of God.
And that should control how we do things every single day. Let us pray.