Focus on the ?

Tonight my pastor asked the congregation what we are slaves to. He said we should ask ourselves two questions to find the answer:

1. When you're alone, what do you day dream about?
2. What do you most fear losing in your life?

I hate to admit that my first reaction to the second question is something I shouldn't be afraid of: that someone in my immediate family will die. Of course this is a ridiculous fear, because inevitably, one day it will be realized. And I shouldn't fear death because for Christians, death doesn't win. Still, the pain I'll experience after the death of a loved one scares me out of my mind.

Most people, especially Christians, agree that family is an irreplaceable gift from God. I 100% heartily agree. I love my family far and above life. But I wonder, now--am I a slave to the love of family?

I hear from the pulpit, from Christian radio, from books, CD's, psychologists and church workers that family is more important than anything else. First priority. But when my single friend from church, the one who is in her thirties with no children, tells me that she dreads Christmas because so much emphasis is placed on it as a "family holiday" I wonder--has our Christian society placed the ideal family on a pedestal worthy of our worship, like our secular society has done with money, success, power, and achievement? I worry about the people in our midst who will never have the "perfect" family, or in fact, a family at all. People who have grown up with parents that hurt them, or have entered into marital relationships they now want nothing to do with. Parents who love their children, discipline their children, and ask God "why?" when the same kids turn to drugs, gangs, sex, eating disorders or whatever it is they escape to. What about them?

God is the creator of the family unit. God communicates the beauty of grace through family. Family relationships are another way to understand our relationship to Him. But I'm reminded of the times in Scripture when God reminds us that, although family relationships are important, just like all things on this side of heaven, they change, grow, deteriorate, and eventually, die.

When families are given to us, they're gifts, and should be treated like the gifts they are, rather than taken for granted. But at the same time, I wonder if we should focus more on God's entire family, on the Church as a family, so that we keep our eyes on the heavenly Kingdom Jesus had in mind. I just wonder.

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