Who wants to visit Disneyland alone? Such adventures are more fun to share with someone. Right?
God agrees. God could have retired, gotten away from it all, and gone fishing. Instead, God signed up for the family vacation plan. That’s when the people began showing up.
The family of five sat one row ahead of me during our six hour flight. Cal, the active one year old, occasionally serenaded us with piercing screams when things didn’t go his way. Lizzy, his energetic, inquisitive, and wiggly sister, age four, kept her folks busy too. At some point, oldest and calmest, Tyler, age six, annoyed the older man and woman sitting together in front of him.
The man made a loud, disparaging comment about parents controlling their children. The kids’ dad verbally pushed back, reminding the couple that they were once children too.
Unapologetic and unashamed of his lively kids, Dad stuck with and defended them. It reminds me of the way God sticks with us even when we get out of control and annoying.
In the beginning, when starting his family, God declared, “Let us make man in our own image, and let’s make them male and female.” (Genesis 1) Talk about an active, interesting and, at times, annoying family!
And, when God’s kids, Man and Woman, messed up, God provided a way to save them from themselves. “God so loved he world that he gave his only son,” Jesus, to reconcile his children back to himself. Yes, God wants family and friends.
That’s so great. St. Paul’s prayer says it for me: “My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father after whom all families in heaven are patterned, and ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit—not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength—that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in.” (Ephesians 3:14–20, adapted from The Message)
While here on earth, Jesus talked, like his Father, about family and friends. He taught us to pray, “Our Father…” (Matthew 6); announced, “I and my Father are one” (John 10); and prayed, “Father…make them one as we are one” (John 17). About friendship Jesus said, “You are my friends because you do the things that I ask you to do,” and, “I tell you my secrets because you are my friends” (John 15).
Now Jesus calls us his family and friends to bring God’s family and friends message to everyone. His instructions are: “Go into all the world. Look and listen for the people who really want to know God. Immerse them into a great relationship with us. Teach them the things I am teaching you. Know that I will always go with you.” (Matthew 28)
Railroad crossing signs used to read¾“Stop! Look and Listen!” Now, Jesus calls. “Go! Look and Listen!” Be going around with attentive love and truth. Look and listen,” but this time, for people, not trains. When you encounter learners, welcome them to enjoy God’s family and friends love with you.
Finally, true lovers of God are true lovers of people¾especially people who are different from them. With Jesus they open their arms and say, “Welcome, come, sit and eat with us!”
Go! Look and Listen! What are you hearing and seeing? Whom are you welcoming?
John Parker, pastors leaders toward more powerful and effective kingdom ministry