Upside-Down Kinda Love

Upside-Down Kinda Love

By Melissa Brogdon

About four years ago, my parents took a DNA test through My siblings and I were excited to discover the genealogy of our family from both sides of our DNA contributors. Surprising to no one, we found out both our parents carry at least 40% Native American DNA, primarily from the same area in North-Central Mexico. But then my DNA got interesting, and my lineage becomes what I like to call a “tossed salad of many seeds and nuts”. My father's DNA make-up is made up of Spanish, Portuguese, Basque, Italian, Cameroonian, Irish/Scottish, English, Malian, Benin/Togolese, Middle Eastern, Jewish and East African. My mother is Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Cameroonian, Basque, Benin/Togolese,  Malian, Senegalese, Jewish, French, and Sardinian…needless to say, my ancestors got around.

When I discovered the diversity which flows in my blood, it was mesmerizing to trace my family’s footprints across the globe. My first family consists of my parents and 3 siblings. I am so grateful to them, for the good they instilled and the memories we share. We are a strong yet imperfect tribe committed to loving one another. Yet some of the ties that bind us together were often haphazardly intertwined by two parents who were young, in love, but living without the Lord’s guidance. As an adult with my own family now, there are many ties I’ve chosen to keep. Some of which I have fastened to the hemline of my own children while raising them: the healing gift of laughter, the strength that comes in numbers, music, and amazing food.

I love my parents; I appreciate them and the effort they made. Yet it wasn’t my family’s love that untangled the sinful mess of my heart. No, that work was that of My Savior, the masterful hand of my God. He has patiently chiseled the sin away with what I call: His upside-down kinda love. He is the original architect…the creator of the family unit. And from the beginning of mankind’s history, God declared that it was not good for man to be alone and gave us the gift of companionship through our first mother and father—Adam and Eve. And it is there in the pages of Scripture we see the first marriage and the first family attempt to live out their purpose. And the fall of man commences as the battle of wills unfolds. Not surprisingly, they failed at their attempt to be their own god. Settling for life in the wilderness of the world, the first family’s fate was determined.

Yet God did not leave us without hope or guidance. In Scripture we get many examples of godly men and women living out their faith before their family. Rahab had faith in God that was a witness to her immediate family and many generations to follow.  She (a gentile harlot in the bloodline of our mighty King Jesus) is an example of what it means to be a light within her household. Her actions matched her confession of faith.

In a similar way, parents are to teach their children the joy of a godly life. And because of their faithful walk, the daily influence over their household will seep into the hearts of their children as a deep abiding faith, because God is the foundation and cement of their home. Deuteronomy 6:5-7, “And you shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Leading our children well means living a holy life before them and when we fall, showing them what it means to repent and receive the forgiveness of our loving Father.
In Luke 14:26, Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters-, yes even his own life-he cannot be my disciple”. These are startling words from the master designer of the family unit, but what does He mean? This is where God’s upside-down loves begin to crumble the idols in our hearts, because even a good and godly family can cause one to stumble. How? When we idolize them…when we put them on a pedestal in our hearts that obscures our view of Christ. With all the goodness family brings, God never intended them to sit on His throne. When you flip Luke 14:26 around and begin from the bottom up, you get insight into what Jesus is teaching. His upside-down kinda love rearranges our loves into the proper order. For to be Jesus’ disciple He must be our first and primary love.

What is the most coveted idol of the world? The idol of self, which is why it targeted first. What do we often idolize next? People, primarily those closest to us: our spouse, our children, or our parents. The very family He gave us is often the thing He calls us to surrender. Not in abandonment but surrender over to Him. Because it is only when He is our center of gravity, and the gospel is the song our hearts sing that we will be the witness God calls us to be. His love flips our loves upside down so that He always lands on top. For He is the only lover of my soul, the only king upon my throne. My first true love.
Song of Solomon 6:3, “I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine.” Is this statement true for you and God? Are you loving someone or something more than Him? Be forewarned, our God is in the business of idol crushing, but He never leaves empty space unfilled. Not only can we sit at His feet and under His teachings, but He gives us a seat at His family table. He teaches us how His blood binds the outcast to the popular one, the young to the old, the rich to the poor, the educated to the uneducated. We are His church made up of His people under His eternal rule.

These are the ties that God designed; the golden threads His magnificent hands have tied for eternity. In the Bible you see this most clearly lived out by the early church in the book of Acts. Acts 2:42;46-47 “and they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers—And day by day attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts praising God and having favor with all the people and the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved”.  In the household of God, there is only one entrance, and it lies at the foot of the cross. When we embrace His kind of upside love, the truth in His teaching blows breath into our lungs. Genetics, lineage, family history are the coats we check at His front door, where the light is always on, and the sign is always welcome. In God’s household there is always a place at His table.

So, what does it mean to be a member of the household of God? Romans 8:14-17 says, “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs-heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him”. Because our inheritance is rich within the family of God, we should be compelled to care for this household. How? To serve our brothers and sisters, to bandage one another’s wounds, to edify, encourage, hold accountable, support, defend, protect, forgive, and be forgiven. Our love for one another should be on display to the unbelieving world because the ties that bind us are dipped in the blood of our Savior. Milton Vincent writes this: “The gospel is not just a message of reconciliation with God, but it also heralds the reconciliation of all believers to one another in Christ. When he saved us, He, made us members of His household, and He gave us as gifts to one another. Each brother and sister is a portion of my gospel inheritance from God, and I am a portion of their inheritance as well. We are significant players in each other’s gospel narrative, and it is in relationship with one another that we experience the fullness of God in Christ. Hence, the more I comprehend the full scope of the gospel, the more I value the church for which Christ died, the more I value the role that I play in the lives of my fellow Christians, and the more I appreciate the role that they must be allowed to play in mine.” It is now the fingerprints of the people in this church that leave the greatest indelible marks on my life…mi Familia con Dios…my family with God.

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