Monday, January 25, 2010

All in the Family

"All in the Family"

Ecclesiastes 1:2-11; Galatians 3:26-28

Pastor Tom Millner

January 24, 2010



Johnny, the seven year old, was fascinated by the tour guide's demonstrations and knowledge as his class was being guided through the local museum of natural history. At the exhibit of the human heart the guide showed each part of the human heart, taking special care to point out the atria, ventricles, valves, veins and arteries as well as the unique function of each as an essential part of human life. Johnny had a puzzled look on his face as he raised his hand. "Yes, young man," the guide said, acknowledging Johnny's quest. "Where's the love?" Johnny asked!


Many years ago there was a situation comedy on television titled "All in the Family." Each character in the comedy was an exaggeration of what was then (and is perhaps now) commonly held notions of what was expressed as societies norms. An unlikely assortment of extreme personalities held together by a common thread of familiarity and habit. Archie, Edith, Gloria, and Meathead had their own notions of how the other "ought to be." Each character reveled in his or her own well crafted identity and unique world view. Conflict was the norm, but there were also touching times when everyone pulled together for the good of the whole because they recognized the value of the family unit. Even in the uniqueness of their individuality, they recognized kinship. We've seen that to a degree as diverse nations and cultures have rallied around the hurt nation of Haiti to give help and hope (often mixed with a tinge of hindrance) to fellow humans ravaged by destruction all around. Sometimes it takes a catastrophe, a common foe, to remind us that in Paul's words "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, [or any other differentiation] for you are all one in Christ Jesus."


Paul was emphatic in his assertion to the Christians in Galatia; "for all are one in Christ Jesus." What does that mean? What does that look like? We are such creatures of habit and familiarity that we often fail to recognize that the comfort we feel from the habitual and familiar is an illusion. Solomon wisely noted that "Everything is meaningless. What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun? Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever." When I first read those words many years ago I felt a sense of concern that he must have written it during a time of deep depression and despair. I have grown to realize that it is wise counsel. Solomon did not mean that we should not be about the things that our hearts can imagine or that it is futile to try to make things different or better for ourselves and/or others. Rather, Solomon's wise counsel to us is to not put all our eggs in the temporal basket, for it will pass away, but the love of the Lord shall endure forever. This is wisdom that underpins the assertion of Jesus to place God above all in our lives and act that out in a way that promotes the other's positioning of God first in their lives at the same level as we do our own! That bit of insight should change for us the emphasis we place on those things that we insist be of greatest importance. We get so tied up in our trappings of life and love that we fail to identify the essence of the cord that binds us together. That cord is the person Jesus, who loved the Father so much that He gave Himself as a sin sacrifice so that each of us could be brought into the family of perfection – all in the family of God! He loved God first and laid down His life in an act of love that gave us what He had!


I read this week about a study that is posted in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine wherein it was shown that children overwhelmingly prefer the taste of food that comes in McDonald's wrappers. Preschoolers sampled identical foods in packages from McDonald's wrappers and equally from unbranded packaging. The kids were asked if the food tasted the same or if one was better than the other. The unbranded foods failed the test every time. Even foods like apple juice, carrots, and milk in packaging with the McDonalds branding won out. A Yale University physician noted that "This study demonstrates simply and elegantly that advertising literally brainwashes young children into a baseless preference for certain food products." "Children, it seems, literally do judge a food by its cover. And they prefer the cover they know." (1)


As adults we know enough to recognize a carrot as being a carrot, no matter the packaging. I submit that every day, however, we are bamboozled by the trappings of the unique group we hang with, the credentials we gather around us, finer clothing, tighter bodies, or the holy expressions that at the end of the day lead us away from the fact that we are underneath, all the same. Hopeless to save ourselves, unable to redeem one follicle from the ravages of sin, yet made whole and complete through the act of one man – Jesus – whose sacrifice of self and rightly owned position of royalty and perfection – became the ultimately imperfect for our sake. What is justly due us (the ultimate consequence of sin) His mercy redeems and His grace grants us the "packaging" (the clothes of Christ) we have never deserved. No matter what packaging we try to put on or hide behind, God sees through to who we really are.


Paul said to us through his writing to the church in Galatia "You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ." We need no other trappings. We need no title, we need no status, we need no point of influence, and we need no stage. We are clothed with Christ! In fact, he goes on to say (translated) that we are not defined by our religious protocols, our modern day indebtedness or lack thereof, our gender, our orientation, our complexion, our position of influence or recognition, our talents or lack thereof; but rather, we are rendered as one in Christ who now clothes us. Now, look at the person beside you – say "we are one in Christ Jesus." Now turn to the other side and repeat it. When you leave here today go to your mirror and look at yourself and say "I am one with Christ Jesus." If you can't see Him, start looking for ways to dismantle the packaging you've hidden yourself behind. As you seek Him, the packaging will fall away, and the sight of Him will become clearer. You'll know that's happening when you see Him more clearly in others!




  1. "Foods Taste Better With McDonald's Logo, Kids Say," Forbes, August 6,2007, adapted from RIZM Slice of Infinity, January 20, 2010






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