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The third definition in Webster's New World Dictionary 3rd college edition for family is, “a group of people related by ancestry or marriage; relatives.” In my family we have strong devoted Christians, loving grandparents and uncles and aunts, cousins who still care about each other as adults, good parents and children and grandchildren. In my family we also have atheists, agnostics and skeptics, drunks and drug addicts and adults who enable them, ex-cons, thieves, adulterers and adulteresses, dead beat parents and rebellious children, lukewarm members of the church and those who have altogether left the Lord’s church. I speak of the living and not the dead, and I contribute my own share of spiritual victories and failures.

My church family resembles my physical family, sharing many of the same virtues and vices. Perhaps you object, “It shouldn't be that way. ‘For he who has died has been freed from sin’” (Romans 6:7). That's right. Should be and reality are often two different things. My church family, like the church at Rome and Corinth and Ephesus, struggles to come out from the world and be different.

It’s embarrassing to see a preacher stand self-righteously behind the bully pulpit. Has he no sin? Is his family perfect? It’s also a shame to see a preacher so concerned about his faults or offending his family and friends, that he never really addresses the temptations and sins that plague them and himself. Paul told Timothy, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you” (1 Timothy 4:16). He also wrote, “And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will” (2 Timothy 2:24-26). – Taken from The Harvester, bulletin from the church in Trenton, TN (January 21, 2024).