The Family

Ever since Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, Evangelical Christians have been under greater scrutiny than ever—since they are viewed as some of the president’s largest supporters. This comes into play in the Netflix documentary series, The Family, which examines an alleged secretive Christian organization that seeks to gain control in Washington D.C. and around the world, known as “the Family” or “the Fellowship.” While the series paints the organization in a negative light—and by association, Evangelical Christians as well—it does explore some topics that are important for any Christian to think about, especially in our tumultuous political climate. The aspect we want to focus on is the notion of being chosen.

 

Chosen
The Family is presented as a simple assembly of men who live together in a house named Ivenwald. They love Jesus, serve others, and are groomed to become future world leaders. But more importantly, they are all chosen. The men were chosen to join the fellowship. Some are then chosen to become leaders. The fellowship believed they were just following Jesus’ model; he chose his disciples, and he also chose his inner circle: Peter, James, and John. Being chosen has its benefits.

In one scene of the first episode, the members of the fellowship have a discussion with an older mentor about the “good guys” of the Old Testament—in particular, King David. The mentor explains how David has sex with another man’s wife and has that man killed, and yet God still likes David. Why? Because David is chosen. The mentor goes on to discuss how, if a member of the fellowship had raped three little girls, he would not judge that fellow because he is chosen. Basically, for the Fellowship, being chosen sweeps anyone’s wrongdoing under the rug.

While it is true that God is willing to forgive any of our sins, this does not excuse or permit any of our sinful actions. God’s Law applies to everyone—including God’s chosen man, King David. David’s actions were evil, so he faced serious consequences for his wrongdoing. His child with Bathsheba died. He would lose control of his kingdom and it would eventually become divided. David’s actions certainly were not overlooked. And yet, David did regain God’s favor because he was faithful. He was remorseful for his actions. He remained loyal to God.

The same applies to us. 1 Peter chapter 2 explains what it really means to be God’s chosen: we are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession” (v. 9). And since we are “foreigners and exiles” of this world, we must “abstain from sinful desires” (v. 10). We are to be different from the world. As God’s chosen, we must avoid sin, not use God’s grace as a license to sin. So, to assume that performing horrible acts like raping little girls is no big deal if you are “chosen,” is absolutely disgusting. It flies in the face of all of Jesus’ teachings.

One must also wonder: Why is someone chosen? According to The Family, a man of the Fellowship is chosen because he is fit for leadership. He’s strong, he’s macho, he’s a winner. But whom does God choose in the Bible? The weak. The second-born. The outcast. Jesus himself was born in a lowly stable, not in a magnificent palace. He was raised by commoners, not royalty. David was a shepherd. All of his strong, fit brothers were passed over, and God chose David, the youngest, the runt of the litter. Why? Because God recognized him as “a man after my own heart” (Acts 13:22). David did sin willfully; but when his evils were exposed, he lamented and repented. He faced the consequences of his actions and remained loyal to God. Because of this, God also remained faithful to him.

Conclusion
David isn’t the only instance in Scripture of being chosen. The motif of being chosen or called out is interwoven all through God’s story. God created Adam and Eve to be his divine representatives on earth. When God sent the great flood, he chose to spare Noah and his family. Abram was chosen to be the father of a great nation, and Moses was chosen to lead God’s people out of Egypt. Mary was chosen to give birth to Jesus, and salvation is now available to the entire world through faith in him. Anyone can become a member of God’s chosen people.

The Family’s version of being chosen is the opposite of the Bible’s. The Family’s chosen are granted power and privilege. God’s chosen are given much responsibility and are called to do great things; but they are also asked to sacrifice and suffer for his sake. The Bible commands us not to show favoritism to anyone, whether rich (James 2) or poor (Exodus 23:3). “The Family” is portrayed as being above the law, however, every person is accountable to God’s law—even God Himself (Matthew 5:17). The Family values strength, but God chooses the weak to put the strong to shame (1 Corinthians 1:27). God has chosen us not because of our own righteousness, but simply because he loves us.

“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.” — Ephesians 1:4-6 (NIV)

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