Welcome to the Family
by Jessica LaGrone
So God created humankind in his image. In the image of God he created them. Male and female, he created them. - Genesis 1:27
God made family. The very first family. Isn’t that beautiful?
Beautiful is not how most of us would describe a typical day in the life of a family. Instead, we make the list. I have this issue in my family and I don’t really belong with all these other people at church. Or a family secret. Or addiction. Or abuse. Or scandal. Or conflict. Or divorce and remarriage. Or maybe just because our sweet little family was screaming at each other in the van 5 minutes before we got to church.
Well, welcome to the family.
God did make the very first family. And yet bad things immediately started to go wrong. This very first family had their very first family fight when Eve ate a piece of fruit and shared it with her husband, Adam. And then God showed up and asked them, “Have you eaten from the tree I commanded you not to eat from?” And then Adam responded, “Well, God, this woman that you gave me, she gave me the fruit. So I ate it. She was your idea, God, not mine.”
Instead of learning from their mistakes and getting better as the generations go on, things just keep getting worse because in the next generation we have Cain and Abel, the very first sibling relationship and then the first murder. We haven’t made it past the 4th chapter of the Bible yet and this family thing, it isn’t working out so well. At one point things get so bad that God decides to start over with what seems to be just one perfect family—Noah and his sons and their wives. But you know what happens right after they get off the boat? Noah gets drunk. One of his sons sees him disrobe and brings a curse on all of his descendants.
You may recall that the book of Genesis hits an ultimate low point in chapter 11. It’s the absolute moral bankruptcy of the human family. I like to think that’s why they put it in chapter 11, because this is the bankruptcy chapter. People have fallen so bad that their goal is to kick God off the throne because they themselves want to be gods now. God simply scatters them by mixing up their language. And this tower they were trying to build gets nicknamed The Tower of Babel because all they do is babel. These people lost their ability to truly communicate.
God rolls up his sleeves and he gets ready to turn the page to chapter 12 because he has a secret weapon, something he says will restore the world to the way he wanted it to be in the very beginning. And you know what his secret weapon is? It’s a family. When God wants to change the world, he starts with a family. Their names were Abraham and Sarah. And God promised them that he would bless them beyond their wildest dreams. They were going to be blessed to be a blessing. The blessing God would pour out into their family would overflow to heal the rest of the world. So you would think that this would be the family that would finally get it right. Even this family is far from perfect. And do you know why? There is no such thing as the perfect family.
And yet God never gave up on families. Families are what God invented to show us how he feels about us. We only understand God’s love because someone else first loved us. So when families mess up, God keeps loving and offering grace again and again. That’s what we’re supposed to do for each other, too. We love our families enough to know they need God’s love and our prayers. And, yes, while they often need to change. We also find that change often begins with us. When God wants to change the world, he starts with a family. But when God wants to change a family, he starts with one person.
Are you that one person? How has God used you and your family? Oh, and by the way, welcome to the family.
Jessica LaGrone is an Associate Pastor at The Woodlands United Methodist Church in The Woodlands, Texas. An acclaimed preacher, teacher, and author. Jessica enjoys speaking at retreats and events at churches throughout the United States. She and her husband, Jim, have two young children, Drew and Kate. Broken and Blessed is Jessica’s most recent in-depth Bible study.