Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On Priorities

Anne Ortlund's The Gentle Ways of the Beautiful Woman establishes life's priorities as God, Church, the Poor.  

"Your physical family is precious, but they are temporary - for this world only.  Your spiritual family is eternal....  A deep prayer life with, and accountability to, some close members of the spiritual family can help make your relationship with your physical family what it ought to be." (p. 24)
"...the New Testament epistles...tell us to use our gifts to nourish the Body of Christ, and draw our nourishment from the Body so that all the adult singles, young people without Christian parents, and marrieds without Christian spouses will feel just as cared for and loved an nourished as anyone else in God's beautiful forever-family.  And when we're loved and fed and prayed for there, our lacks and needs in our physical family relationships will be wonderfully met." (p. 25)
I've been reflecting on this, and though I see Ortlund's point that when the church is functioning properly the individual's needs are met within the larger community of the church, I think if we fail to serve our families before serving those in the church then we risk too much.

We risk frustration and anger among family members.
We risk losing opportunities to serve one another.

Another thought I have is that placing the responsibility of being loved and cared for upon the Body of Christ simply places them in a position to do what only God can do.  Not even our family can do this completely.  Not our husbands.  Not our children.  Not our parents.  Not our friends.  Only God.

What are your thoughts?



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4 comments:

  1. I believe that our children and families ARE intended to also be our spiritual family, based on Ps. 127 and Malachi 3 and some study I have done on these passages. Not to mean that we are guaranteed our kids will be saved, but God gives us children to pass on the legacy of faith.

    Therefore, our children and our homes are of utmost importance. We all need the support and care and service found in the body of Christ, but we must not forsake or neglect the primary souls God has placed in our lives on a daily basis.

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  2. She's right in that our families are not eternal, therefore we must invest in the eternal things. But just like anything else in life, we must be careful to keep a delicate balance, and not swing too far one way or the other.
    That kind of thinking, putting the spiritual family first, is the thinking of our parents' generation. As a result of that thinking, many families suffered, mine being one of them.
    Our generation saw the damage caused by meeting the needs of a spiritual family before meeting the needs of our physical family, so our generation is more cautious. Groeshell said at a pastor's conference Jay went to, "No one can be a father to your children but you, and no one can be a husband to your wife but you, and no one can care for you, but you". His point, was that, although we are to care for our spiritual family and carry one another's burderns, no one needs us more than our physical family. They are our first obligation.

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  3. Interesting. I really struggled with this part too...

    ...but (maybe I'm remembering wrong-- that could totally be the case) I didn't see it as her talking about immediate family. I think she was talking about not letting extended family matters always take precedence over spiritual family things. The way people choose to go to great lengths to see a 2nd cousin at the family Christmas party but grumble through the church cookie exchange or whatever... instead of seeing those people AS our brothers and sisters.

    This is the way I worked through it... it definitely made me thankful for the Body and reminded me to place a greater value than I was doing on those spiritual relationships that will last eternally.
    ~Jess

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  4. Good insights ladies.

    Jess - I haven't gotten very far in the book but here's another quote:

    "Do you have a physical family? Then snuggle close together and enjoy the warmth, food and love hopefully provided there. But recognize that your true source of godly love, warmth, nourishment, and togetherness should come from the larger family, the eternal family."

    But I like that you were able to work through it by recognizing our physical families are part of the spiritual family as well - including our immediate family. :) That's a good word.

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