Prayer Focus for Fast - Day 3

Family Flourishing
2 Corinthians 5:16-21

This passage gives such profound insight on the nature of living as a Christian in a fallen world. First, it identifies a Christian as someone who has been reconciled to God. That reconciliation is initiated and completed by the work of Jesus. We were enemies of God, in conflict with Him, with ourselves and with the world around us. But God made peace with us through the blood of Jesus. Now, as followers of Jesus we have this new identity as ambassadors of Christ. We are divinely authorized now to represent him in the world in an official capacity. Our ministry, Paul says, is a ministry of reconciliation. Our engagement with people is to be patterned after Jesus' reconciling work on the cross, whereby he moves toward his enemies, sacrifices and suffers for the sake of his enemies, forgives his enemies, and actually makes a way for his enemies to be his friends. That's our paradigm for relationships.

We tend to think of this calling to be ambassadors of Christ as being toward people outside of our normal circle of friendships. We think about representing Jesus by expanding our social connectivity to those "far from God." But Paul places no such limits on this identity. And I want to apply this to our family relationships today. We are called to be ministers of reconciliation within our families, which is often the hardest context in which to live that way.
So, here are some things to consider:

  • What is the state of my relationships with my family of origin?
  • What judgements about my own family members do I need to repent of and release?
  • How might God have me move toward those I need to reconcile with in my family with forgiveness, humility, repentance and wisdom?
  • How can I affirm and appreciate individuals in my family of origin that I tend to criticize or avoid?
  • How am I advancing the ministry of reconciliation in my own family?
  • What mindsets have I had about family and toward family that need to be healed and corrected?
  • How can I live as an ambassador of Christ and minister of reconciliation to my children or the next generation around me?

The family dynamics and systems we grow up in shape our lives in overwhelmingly powerful ways. Inevitably, we bring that baggage into the families we start and the systems we create. Then we all bring those things, the best and worst, into our friendships as well. There is no perfect family so we all bear scars, experience disappointments and accumulate distrust along the way... and we all contribute to the scars, disappointments and distrust of others too.

But our God is a God of healing. He's a Father who reconciles. Again, we've been reconciled to God through repentance and faith, and we've been given a ministry of reconciliation through the gospel. Jesus has given us reason to forgive and power to forgive. And he's given us the hope of building families, both biological and spiritual, where we can all belong; where we are safe and loved and valued and taken seriously and equipped for life, especially life with God. We have the hope of the gospel and the help of God to nurture families in which we can all flourish. Let's pray toward that today!

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