‘Ohana is well-known to people here in Hawaii. It is quite similar to a Greek word circulating in Christianity called, Oikos.
Now, you may say, “Hey, isn’t that the Dannon yogurt John Stamos keeps doing commercials for?” Well…yes and no. It is the name of their Greek yogurt, but it is also an actual Greek word found in the New Testament relating to a house, or any abode (tent, or the human body with regards to demons). It also can refer to the actual people who reside in and occupy a house. Lastly, it can describe the family and descendants of a person.
So, similar to how ‘Ohana can hold a couple of different meanings depending on context, so too can this word Oikos. It shows up in some form or another 120 times in the New Testament in the New American Standard.
Just like any family or household will have rules, so does God’s family and household. If I come to your house you may want me to remove my shoes, so I do. But if I don’t, I’ve disrespected you and your house. If I hang out with your family and you are of the sort that doesn’t watch any T.V., and only eats organic hummus, then guess what? I am not watching T.V. and I’m eating organic hummus (sorry, but I probably won’t return too soon if all you eat is hummus). And, because a pure bride is to be presented to the Groom, Jesus (we are that bride), He has rules for His church family that we are compelled to abide by. To do less is to dishonor Him and His church.
- I. Timothy 3:14-15 I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long;but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.
After giving strict moral and character qualifications for pastors and deacons (since they are examples to the church on how church members are to live), Paul tells Timothy here that he has written so that proper conduct will occur in the “household (oikos) of God.” Thus, God wants the leadership, the servants, and the rest of the members to be living holy, Bible-oriented/obedient lives. It’s God’s house, God’s rules.
- Titus 1:10-11 For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families (oikos), teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain.
As in I. Timothy 3, Paul just got done instructing Titus on the lifestyle of the pastors of the church, and is now discussing one of his roles which is to call out troublemakers (remember, a shepherd is to guard his flock from the wolves, the false teachers, from those that cause division in the body such as in Romans 16:17). We declared Sunday that the church is Jesus’ church, therefore we follow His rules and doctrine. The shepherds of a church are to watch for false teachers (and nowadays, that includes on the printed page or via technology), for those who spread rumors and lies, for those who don’t really want Jesus in charge, but really want to be in charge themselves. See how Paul finishes up this section:
- Titus 1:13b, 14, and 16 For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth… They profess to know God, but by their deeds they deny Him, being detestable and disobedient and worthless for any good deed.
A clean, pure church is serious business and no light matter to Paul. It’s either God’s way or the highway, and while Paul wants to see people sold out for God, he’s not afraid to eliminate those who refuse to submit to God, teaching lies, leading the sheep astray (hint: this is notand has not been problem at WBC since I’ve come here—it’s just the context of this passage). This is actually the same type of forceful language you see when Jesus He rebukes the Jewish spiritual leaders who were not pointing people to God.
A clean house is why Peter also says:
- For it is time for judgment to begin, starting with the house (oikos) of God.—I. Peter 4:17a
But, in this case it is God Who is cleaning out the church. Peter is advising his readers how God uses suffering to refine the church (i.e. the image of the refiner’s fire would fit in here well). Just read Revelation 2:8-11 and you will see a small church that Jesus commends and praises for enduring suffering and staying pure! Back to I. Peter, John MacArthur states that this refining is:
- “Not condemnation, but the purging, chastening, and purifying of the church by the loving hand of God.”
I won’t belabor the point, but realize that holiness is our daily quest as a church family. It will bring the fruits of righteousness to the whole family. It will heal divisions, factions, jealousies, and the like. It will bring a bond of love and unity that shows our love for Christ and each other. It will bring down Jesus’ overabundant blessings. Every part of the church begins with Jesus and His rules. When you come to His house He has expectations for our mental, moral, physical, social, and all other conduct. And since the church is His house, His Oikos, then our love for Him should compel us to obey Him closer and more consistently so we can bring Him glory.
- Did you grow up in church? If so, did you often hear references to the church being a family? _____________________________________
- Did your church feel like a family? _______________________
- Why or why not? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- On one hand, we can’t help but bring our own version of family into a church, but on the other hand, our families are not a great example to follow as they are made up of sinful people with sinful agendas. Comparing one’s family with the Bible’s instructions and examples of a church:
- What parts of your earthly family are noble, god-honoring traits that you should bring into a church family? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- What parts are not worth bringing in? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- In the biblical scheme of things, the order of authority is 1) Facts (biblical), Faith (based on that Bible), and Feelings. Thus, our feelings are in 3rdplace and should never dictate or advise our decision-making process for important matters (you can use your feelings to choose which flavor of ice cream you want, but you should not use feelings to choose what counts in life). But, when you compare a good family experience with a church family, certain emotions/feelings will naturally be produced from the fellowship and love of that family:
- Which positive feelings have you experienced at church over the years similar to positive feelings you’ve had within your family? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Which negative ones? _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- What can you do to improve the “experience” of your church family to match those positive, God-honoring feelings you enjoy? ____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
- Remember again, feelings are notthat important, biblically speaking. There’s a place for them, but we are never to let them have center stage in our lives. They are to always be submissive to the Word of God, and our Faith in that Word. Yet, God made us with feelings for a reason. So, the goal in the question above is not to improve the feelings in the church alone, but to ensure we produce positive, godly feelings based on biblical foundations of ministry and life.
- Lastly, continue praying for your church. Pray for those hurting, for those raising children, for those with physical ailments, for those who may have some tough life decisions needing God’s wisdom, for those who need comfort, for those who have financial needs, and so forth. And, most of all, pray for our church’s spiritual growth and depth, that we’ll not just learn the Word, but that we’ll live it.