Is Your Family Weird?

Every family fights. 

Every family is weird in its own special way. Can I get an amen?
We had this conversation in our house a few years ago, but most families have a smell. Here's the thing, you don't believe it. You're like, "except for our family." But, yes, you have a smell, just nobody has told you.

We had this conversation even with a bunch of students that were at our house and we were like, is our family smell like a good family smell? They're like, well, it's a very comforting family smell. S

Some people it's the smell of those little-- what are they, those little balls that go in your detergent in the wash. What are those? The unstoppables. Sometimes it's like that one cologne that dad's worn for 43 years, right? Some of you it's like that pet, what is it that little dragon thing? The bearded dragons. Your house smells like little dragon food, right?

Every family has their niche and their groove and I don't know how to say it any other way, but every family has their weird things. On top of it, every family fights too.

Here's the thing, when we're with family and we get in those places where we have conflict, we have to realize that family and family disagreements can often hurt us more than we would admit. Partly because we know how to hurt each other the best. Because the people that you love and hold closest know how to hurt you the worst at the same time, as knowing how to love you, the best.

When you have no relationship, you find rebellion.

In the book of James, Jesus' brother has something to say about arguments. He was very specific about how we should respond. I'm going to tell you when we're looking at this today, these are some principles about the unity of the church, and working together and being God's church together. Take a look:

James 4:1-3. What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.

He says in there, "What's causing these quarrels?"

Then he basically goes on to say, "It's your selfish nature. You're thinking of yourself only. You're not seeing from the other person's point of view. You're not seeing from God's perspective. You're just simply looking at it and saying, 'I, me, my."' There's got to be a change. There's got to be something that we change here.

A lot of the arguments between family, where it's students, young adults, parents, it's because we're not speaking the same language and we don't see from the same perspective. How can that be? We're all under the same roof. We're all in the same place. It's so incredibly true. We want to have things my way, not your way, when we're students.

Here's one thing that I'll tell you is, ever since that light bulb in your brain went off that said, "I want to be my own person," you and I all the way through our adulthood and into the ends of our life, we will fight for something called autonomy. Now, you're thinking, "Isn't that the cars that drive by themselves?" Well, that's the idea, is you're not controlled by anyone, but yourself.

Everybody wants autonomy in every place of their life. They want to be in control of their thoughts, and their intentions, and their actions, and their thing. "I want it my way." That's why Burger King had that slogan for so long.

That's the thing inside of us that says, "I want to be in control of all the things." Me, autonomy. No matter of who's right or wrong, it's a matter of lacking relationship that causes dilemmas between us. When you have no relationship, you find rebellion.

I've just got these kids who are so rebellious. Well, part of it is we make a lot of rules and we spend more time reiterating the rules than being in relationship. Then that's where you get rebellion from.

One of the things that I'll just submit in your direction is this (this is for you, students and young adults) part of the thing is that you and I have to understand that we hold a lot of power in these relationships. It is our job as young adults, as students in a family, as part of our family, to look at our parents and say, "I want relationship." It's sad and it's difficult to understand that some parents don't understand that nearly as well as they should, but we have to usher grace into that situation as well.

Start some fights.

When I was writing this, I thought, "Everybody's going to think I'm telling them not to fight." We don't want fighting in our homes. We want peace. I'm going to tell you opposite of that today. I want you to start fighting, and I want you to fight good.

I want you to start fighting except fighting hard for the things that matter most. It's so important that we fight for the right things. Not just autonomy and my way, but fighting for what's really important.

Here's the thing. Conflict is something that we will all experience. Conflict unresolved or mishandled always has consequences, always. I just want you to know, it's never best to wait out a problem. I'm going to tell you, there's three things that happen when you just choose to let it simmer for a while:
1. It deepens the pain. 
2. It develops into way more.
3. It defines the relationship eventually. 

I'm asking us as a church, start some fights, but fight differently and for different reasons than the rest of the world would. Stop fighting against their way and start fighting for a relationship. Fight for relationship in a way that builds and encourage and strengthens the people around you. More often than not, we just say, "I just didn't want to cause an issue." Yet when we do that, it causes more of an issue than you would ever imagine coming your way.

Love is not an accessory. It's everything.

Here's what scripture says we should do. This is what the fight should look like:

Colossians 3:12-15: Since God chose you to be holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other's faults and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you so that you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves in love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. Let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body, you are called to live in peace and always be thankful.

It needs to start inside our homes. Even beyond that, this is the way that we should care for one another. I know families hurt the worst a lot of different times. I know that when things get heated, things get said and you can't take them back.

We used to do that illustration with the kids where we would take toothpaste and get all of it out of the tube and say, "Okay. Now put it all back in." They can't, no matter how hard they try. That's what your words are like. You ever said something and you hear it come out of your mouth and you go, "I meant it, but I need to take that back." That happens all the time.

Here's the thing God's called us to do. Paul really dictated it here. He said, "Put on some new clothes, put on some new things that you wouldn't normally do. Since God chose you to be holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with and in tenderhearted mercy." That's new clothes. That's not something that I came to the party with.

Kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Why would we need tenderhearted mercy? Because it allows us to approach conflict with perspective.  He says, "Hey, I know you didn't show up like this, but why don't you put this on and see how it does and how you relate."

Now, here's the other part that's even more difficult, is offering and giving forgiveness and not rubbing it in. Yes, you are an idiot and you do many dumb things. That's what we would like to say, but He says, offer that forgiveness. That means getting off of your high horse. When I ask and offer forgiveness, I'm saying I'm going to come down to where you are and I'm going to look you in the eye and I don't want to.God clothed me in this because I don't have it in me. Let's just go to this.  Love is not an accessory. It's everything.

Does Christ really rule in your home?

Ephesians 4:29-32: Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them. And do not bring sorrow to God’s Holy Spirit by the way you live. Remember, he has identified you as his own, guaranteeing that you will be saved on the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

Why would Paul write this to the Ephesians? Because they were used to justice, fighting for what was right, getting into conflict, and destroying the person across from you so that they know that you're in charge. He said that's the way that the world fights, but I want you to fight differently. I want you to fight hard, but I want you to fight in a way that has been exemplified to you and I want you to fight in a way that means something.

Instead of raising a fist or a vulgar word, instead of getting loud and telling people how bad they are, I want you to love them harder than you've ever loved them before. That's how people will know that you've been covered, redeemed, and regenerated by the work of Jesus Christ and His cross. What really rules my life and our home? In Colossians, it says, "And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts for as members of one body, you are called to live in peace."

The peace of Christ rules. He is our peace. He is our rest. He is our strength. He is our source. He is our hope. He is our redemption. He is everything. If the question is what really rules in my life and in our home, my question would be, does Christ really rule in your home and can it be seen by the fruit that now lives in your family? That is peace, wisdom, and rest, and truth.

You can't control family. You can't control the way that they go. What you control is your heart and your intentions and your reactions and your understanding to say I'm going to love you no matter what, and I'm going to make an allowance for you being a dingbat because God loved you first, so I'm going to love you too, and I'm going to reflect His love to you.

How to fight.

How are we supposed to fight fair and get into places where conflict doesn't kill us, but it makes us more thankful for the moments God's given us?

I'm going to give you a couple key things before I get into the 10.

1. We have to remember we have two ears and one mouth. Active listening is a big thing. You need to be people that listen first, talk later. Don't try to be understood before you try to understand.
2. In conflicts, speak for yourself only. Because you know what? It stinks when somebody else is telling you what you're thinking. "I know what you're thinking right now. I'm going to tell you what you're thinking right now." Really? I might just change my mind because you said that.
3. Blame and accusations, they're off limits if you want to see resolution. Blame and accusations get you nowhere. The idea is that we need to express our needs clearly in a safe place.

Alright, so how do we fight fair? Here are 10 Steps to Healthy Conflict Resolution:
1. Pray. Because it's hard to not like somebody if you're praying for them. The same thing, "Hey, why don't we just stop and pray about that right now?" Usually, conflicts will resolve right then and right there when you start with prayer.
2. Choose the right time and place. 
We have to come to an agreeable time and place where we can handle something (if your wife is not a morning person, 6am is not the time to talk about finances.)
3. Make sure you're clear about the "issue." 
I tell most people in conflict, if you will just write down what the issue is, so that you both can see it. Most of the time, that's where everything is resolved.
4. How are you responsible? 
One of the most disarming things you can do is say, "Here's where I messed this up. Here's where I contributed to the problem."
5. Sincere apology (owning it). 
Again, that resolves so much conflict in our lives when we begin at that place.
6. Find common ground/brainstorm solutions. 
Sometimes you got to throw something big out there.
7. Work together to generate potential solutions to the conflict. Encourage creative thinking.

8. Evaluate possibilities and agree on a solution
9. Set a time and a place for follow up. 
We're going to sit down in a month and we're going to talk about this again. Guess what? You're not going to hear about it from me for another month.
10. Reward one another. 
That's the goal, is rewarding one another and celebrate what God has done in you.

Here's the big thing. You got to remember, healthy conflict, it's good, and the world doesn't know how to do it well, so we got to set the base. I'm telling you, church, I am asking you to fight. Start the fight. Fight hard, but fight for what matters most in a way that will bring life and health and truth. That's what I have to say about that this morning from God's Word.
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