Time to Listen and Change
All right, I think I’ll be the first one to ask a question. Do I understand we have to check in with a child like that one you mentioned, that changed the color of his hair? Or do we tell his parents and the child all at once?
If you’re already living like a Family, then those things are easy to talk about. But if you’re “attending” something, and talk to them about it, then it’s almost like being a policeman. “Do this. Don’t do this. That’s bad, that’s good.” Of course nobody wants to be a policeman or wants to be policed. If all we are doing is attending something, we have no power to help the heart change. By telling someone to change something, what good does that do? That doesn’t change the heart. But do you know what? I may have two biological children, but I will have a hundred spiritual children, if I’m pouring my life out for them. I pass the Frisbee or the American football with them and I run with them, talk with them, eat with them and play cards with them as they are growing. I love on them from the heart because they’re my children, and they are our children. So when it’s time to talk about the purple hair…it’s easy.
Which one is the better one to talk to? The parents? Or the child?
It could be both, but I think I would first say to the parent, “Did you notice your child’s hair? What do you think about this?” It may be that the parent is the child and the one who needs the help! Maybe the parent is not taking responsibility, or didn’t notice or care. Or, maybe the parent will say, “You know, we talked about it, and worked through the heart issues, so I think for now, let’s just see what happens.” And you discern that there is wisdom there. They do in fact care, and they have prayed about it, and already talked to the child about it. So you can see that it’s not about the law, but about the heart. I can see that the parent is pouring into the child, so maybe I say to the child, “I noticed your hair. I want you to know—I noticed.” And then I walk on, because he knows I love him. I don’t “attend” him. He and I have a relationship. My son Joshua has Titus, Aquila and Silas as his fathers because we are a Family of a hundred mothers, brothers, sisters and fathers. Others have input into his life. Their gifts pour into my children and my gifts pour into their children. The father is ultimately responsible for that household, but those children trust me too.
So I would first speak to the father, and say, “Did you notice his hair? Do you care? What do you think?” And if the father says, “I saw it, but I didn’t know what to do!” I would say, “Well, I understand, but let’s talk about what you could do. I’m not quite sure myself, so let’s pray about it!” There’s this teamwork of daily life, and things don’t just go wild down a crazy road, without ever talking and praying about it. You don’t do that in a family, right? You don’t let a child disappear into their bedroom for long periods of time without somehow checking in on them. Before you know it they are shooting up heroin and you wonder how it happened. If you see or sense something strange, you don’t say, “Oh, oh, I’m afraid, I’m afraid!” A parent loves too much to allow that to happen. His call to us is to no longer let those kinds of things happen in the House of God either. “Who are my mothers, brothers, and sisters?” Jesus said of those seated in the circle around Him. That means you have a right to “mother” me and ask, “Why? Help me understand. Maybe it’s okay, but I have this question mark in my mind about the way you acted. Talk to me.” And maybe what I say puts your heart at ease. Or maybe what I say gives you even more concern, like, “Oh, no…”
In that case, what did Jesus say to do? Bring two or three witnesses (Mat. 18:15-16). Bring in two or three, because maybe it is you who misunderstood, and the two or three will help you understand. Or maybe I have a hard heart, and need you to “gang up” on me a little bit. Jesus said to gang up on others if they don’t “get it,” or if they don’t understand, because we want to win our brothers. It’s not a discipline thing. It’s not excommunication; it’s about helping each other. I was a Roman Catholic for twenty years and excommunication means you’re dead, you’re gone, and you’re going to hell. There’s no hope of heaven for you and so you are thrown to hell.
That’s not what it says in the Bible. In the Bible, we try to resolve issues. If a person doesn’t pay attention and wants their sin, we may pull back relationship and not eat with them until they see how serious it is, so we can win them back. It’s like discipline for a child. It’s not something you want to do, but if that’s what it takes to get their attention, God said you discipline a child. That doesn’t mean they are not your child anymore. God says if you don’t discipline your children in some way, you don’t love them. (Hebrews 12:7-10).
God said, “I’m your father too, and therefore I’ll bring discipline to you, if necessary.” And one of the ways He does that is by our relationships with each other as in 1 Corinthians 5. If we have to discipline a little bit and bring in two or three, and then talk to the church about it, then that’s what we do in order to resolve the issue. It is not okay to ignore it and say, “We hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” like a bunch of monkeys attending each other but not really being Family. That’s not God’s desire anymore. You might be saved, but if you are a shallow, selfish person who doesn’t care about others, you can’t please Jesus. You can’t make Jesus smile if you won’t act like His Family. He wants a Family, and not just a bunch of saved individuals. The Bible says that I can’t pray enough, read my Bible enough, and be spiritual enough by myself to overcome my weaknesses and the things I’m blind to. I need you to help me become everything Jesus wants me to be. I’m only partway there. God brought us to your country so we can have more relationships, because I need you, we need you—we need each other. We’ll always need each other because that’s always been God’s plan.
The books of the Bible were written across continents. The letters and relationships are across years and across cities, countries and continents. Not a single book in the Bible is about only one local assembly. The point is, that even across the miles and the continents, we need each other. God’s call to us today is that we begin to live that way and involve ourselves in each other’s lives. Are we to admonish one another on Sunday only? No, daily. Why? So that we won’t be hardened and deceived. That’s in the Bible. Be called alongside one another daily so that we won’t be hardened and deceived. Whether we are old or young, single or married, ten children or two children, teenager or toddler—who are my mothers, brothers and sisters? We need each other, because you have gifts I don’t have.
You have gifts from Jesus and parts of Jesus that He didn’t give to me. The Spirit gives gifts as He wills according to the Bible, and I need the gift that’s in you, and perhaps you need the gifts that are in us. It’s His plan that we be intertwined together, and it takes action to do that. We have now talked about it, yet we are so conditioned. We are like little robots conditioned to listen to words and go back into our lives and to keep on doing the same thing we have always done. It’s now time to break that. It’s the hypnotic trance of always listening, but not actually changing as a result.
If we talked about not lying, you would work to lie less than you used to. If we talked about not being selfish, you would try to be less selfish. Since we have talked about being involved every day in each other’s lives, do you have the courage to do that? It will require some changes. You will have to see things differently. You will need to care more and pay attention to the purple hair. You will have to care enough to be willing to talk to the parents, and to pray for that young one, and spend time with them. And I don’t mean you now sit next to them during a holy meeting in a house or in a building. I mean you go for a walk or go shopping downtown with them. Pass a ball with them and be involved with them like a father, like a brother, like a friend. It’s time that we stop attending ourselves and start acting like the Family of God. Bring the family, bring the house into the church, not the church into the house.