The Wisdom of the Family

Satan is very clever.  Yes, I do believe in a literal Satan and I believe that he is a far more fearsome foe than our common picture of a little man in a red suit with a pitch fork would imply.  He is crafty and relentless in his determination to destroy individual believers and the church as a whole.

Most who read this article believe in Jesus Christ.  But this past week I visited a friend of mine who pastors a church in Pennsylvania.  His opinion of the Southern Church was not very good.  I didn’t like what he had to say and I defended the spirituality of the South as best I could.  But his critique still stung me hard.  He saw us as “a mile wide and an inch deep.”  And I have to admit that far too often he is right on.  We have our basic beliefs about Jesus that we hold very dear, but there is little real difference in our lives.  

God is wise.  He knew what he was doing when he created Adam and Eve and established the family.  And he knew what he was doing when he determined the rules of the family.  

But Satan is very clever.  And he has fooled many of us who would never openly deny that Jesus is Savior and Lord.  He has fooled us by marginalizing the family and convincing us that we can love Jesus while ignoring the home. 

A father sings in the choir or teaches a Sunday school class, but when he is at home, he criticizes his wife and is sarcastic and harsh with his children.  All the while, both husband and wife verbally express their devotion to Christ.  Both husband and wife work long hours.  Sports and band and other activities fill the remaining hours of the day.  There is little time for family devotions so spiritual training is relegated to the 15 minute lesson that is given during Youth Group.  All the while, both husband and wife verbally express their devotion to Christ.

A husband tries to lead his family in Bible Study, but finds it more difficult than expected.  His wife doesn’t really like the way he teaches.  The kids are bored.  After all, he can’t compete with the polished Women’s Study or the Youth Pastor’s Cool lesson.  So he quits.  All the while, both husband and wife verbally express their devotion to Christ.

Parents divorce and go to different churches.  The children are expected to go on as if nothing is wrong.  The children become disoriented.  The parents call on the pastor to somehow help their children through their emotional difficulties.  All the while, both husband and wife verbally express their devotion to Christ.

A family no longer has a regular mealtime or family worship.  This is only a remnant of the past.  It is more important to have the kids involved in countless activities to ensure that they are not lacking in any area that might be necessary for their character development.  How ironic that the most important aspect of character development is squeezed out of the schedule:  regular time with mom and dad.  All the while, both husband and wife verbally express their devotion to Christ.

Parents rarely work or play with their children.  As a result, the children learn life-lessons about character from coaches and teachers rather than from their parents.  All the while, both husband and wife verbally express their devotion to Christ.

Satan has very subtly, but effectively marginalized the family.  He knows what we have yet to realize:  mom and dad are the two most important people in a child’s life and development.

Mom and Dad, this is not written to condemn you.  It is written to awaken you.  Enduring relationships, honesty, forgiveness, selflessness, servanthood, security, order, discipline, etc. are best learned in the home.  It is no wonder that our churches are full of shallow commitments, pretense, avoidance, personal ambitions, insecurity, individualism and rules.  

Loving Jesus in the home is far more difficult than loving him at a church activity.  If you make the family a priority, Satan will double his efforts against you and you will feel like you are doing worse than better.  Persevere.

You will be driven to the forgiveness of Christ over and over again as you will constantly see your failures.  But you will also understand how desperately you need the grace of God to produce godly character in your life so that you can be a model to your children.  Bible Study and prayer will not simply be the way that you express your love to God, but will become the way in which God will supply you with help to do his will.  

I yearn for a day when our churches and community would be known for their spiritual depth rather than their shallowness.