Saturday, July 16, 2016

Not In THIS House

Since the dawn of house building and socialization there has been a child come home from their friend's house and attempt something they'd seen there, but had never experienced at their home. When their parent corrects their behavior the child laments, "That's what they do at my friend's house!" And the parents always reply, "Well, that's not how we do things in THIS house."


My dad has a heightened sense of smell. When we came home from anybody's house, he would welcome us home, then add, "Go change. You don't smell like us."

He wasn't declaring that we smelled bad. We just didn't smell "like us."

There is a reason for this insistence of compliance to house rules. Some parents do not fully comprehend why, they simply have an instinct to preserve and protect the behaviors and rituals of THIS house. But the reasons for this instinct are very important to the health & wellbeing of the family.

Firstly, there are moral codes and laws that each head of household has the right to expect and uphold. "Within the refuge and sanctity of THIS house we follow faith, we don't kill, steal, lie, abuse, gossip, allow racism..." The list goes on.

Beyond moral codes, there are preferences that each household requires differently than others. Things like cleanliness, organization, scents, nutritional adherence...

Then outside the home there are further expectations, such as presentation of appearance, gaming as a family, vacations, defending each other, cheering each other...

Every parent faces the test of their child attempting to blur the lines of what is acceptable in their home. The wise parent keeps those lines in neon-clarity. They do so because there is an ambiance of peace and joy to protect. The rest of the world is chaotic in their lack of law and discipline. The world-at-large will lie on you, betray you, mock you. From the child's experiences in elementary school to the parents' experiences in the workplace, the world causes us to be ever in our guard.

But our HOME is our refuge. We're suppose to walk through the door of our house and be able to let our guard down. From what the eye sees, to what the nose smells, to what the ears hear... There should be an ambiance wherein our soul finds rest.

When anyone in that household begins to threaten the flow of peace within that space, everything of life becomes imbalanced. When parents fight in the home it affects the child's abilities in school, even though that building is far removed from the house. When a child sneaks, or lies in the home it affects the parents' in their workplace. It is a constant effort, and a worthy effort, to keep the ambiance of "THIS house" at peak performance. 

With that established, let me give you a further insight; the congregation you were born-again into is your spiritual family, and it too has its own needs, unique from every other congregation around you.

I've seen parents ignorant of this fact reap great upset in their homes. They've not put two-and-two together that because of the seeds-of-upset they sowed within the "house" of their church, they are reaping upset within their home.

The ambiance of your congregation is what it is because the overseer and protector of that flock has established what is best for that particular body of believers. Adherence to those codes gets the family to specific goals. Attempting to live outside those codes hinders the ability to reach those goals, it causes division in the family. That pastor is forced to rise in defense of the vision God has ordained and say, "Not in THIS house."

Grown adults act like fourteen year olds sneaking about on the very edge of disobedience without blatantly disobeying. It's immaturity and ludicrous. In their role as parent they KNOW their child is headed toward dangerous territory in that kind of behavior, but in their role as a church member they don't see themselves as behaving JUST AS DANGEROUSLY. God help the people who require the pastor to RAGE in the pulpit in order for them to get in sync with the church-family. No pastor wants to do so, just as no loving parent wants to. As the scripture commands, we should be making our Pastor's job enjoyable! For us to cause him grief is unprofitable for US. 

It's further frustrating when a church member looks at other congregations and feels cheated that there are differences. This is nothing short of a child coming home saying, "THEY get to..." 

So what.
That's not what we do in THIS house.

Child of God (my spiritual sibling) let us be ever diligent to keep THIS house in peak performance by having the same rule, and minding the same things. Let's be mature enough to understand that their house has different goals and visions because God ordained they go about their business their way. Just like the differing household rules doesn't make one family better or worse than the other, differing church codes do not make one congregation better than the other. It simply means each "household" is different

I'll give one last comparison in my quest for the wisdom and insight to accomplish unity.

When my baby sister was a teenager she attempted to run away from home. In God's mercy all of the well-laid plans were foiled. But we experienced the worst of helplessness; the one we loved so passionately, had every right to have and keep in our lives was in the power of another. 

There's not a parent that I am acquainted with who excuses kidnapping or running away. Even among divorced parents, they fight tooth-and-toenail, loss-of-limb to retain the right to share life and love with their child. It is the height of heartbreak to lose a child to another human. Merely sitting here typing about this loss causes my heart to race and my hands to tremble. 

As a Pastor's child I can tell you that this is what a pastor and his family endures every time someone leaves the congregation. There is no sleep, no laughter, no peace... Of course, because we're dealing with adults in spiritual matters it cannot be handled as a physical parent handles a physical kidnapping or runaway. It's painful to the core. 

But the heartache of the pastor (and indeed the spiritual siblings) is no less poignant than if your child were kidnapped or ran away.

We must stay in sync and in love with the family God puts us in. If any sibling needs to change homes, it must be done in the right spirit, with the purest of motives, in sync and agreement with the pastor. Just as a wise parent knows if/when a child in the home needs to move on, the Shepherd does too. As a Pastor's child I've witnessed many exoduses. It's blatant which of my spiritual siblings "ran away," and which ones moved honorably. It's obvious which left with the arm-twisting of the prodigal, and which left as Jesus sent his disciples out. Don't be like a foster child, hopping from family to family. People can't develop a thriving root system in that way. 

In THIS house there are rules, and they are for the health and well-being of THIS family fulfilling THESE goals. 

Don't forget, whatsoever a man soweth THAT shall he also reap.