Christ in Our Homes
The greatest cause of the family’s weakness is its failure to meditate upon the glories of Jesus Christ and then live in communion with him. He is the living heart of the Christian home. All its life, beauty, and usefulness are found in him. The family is not an end in itself or self-sufficient to accomplish the purposes for which God created it. All things, including the family, are being gathered under Christ’s Headship. In all things, he will have the preeminence.
All the handwringing about the demise of the traditional family is a useless exercise. Of course the traditional family will decline. Christ was not at its heart and center. If he were, it would be thriving. Alternate and perverse family arrangements would not be pushing it to the end of the relevance que. Money can be poured into it. Conferences in every city could be held to encourage “family renewal.” Make every night “family night,” but if Christ is absent, or a second thought, it will be for nothing.
We speak of the family as an institution, which it is, and a vital one. A family is made up of individuals. Their daily commitments and way of life will determine the strength or weakness of the particular family they comprise. Multiply this throughout society, and you can understand the reason our society looks as it does. The only way to strengthen the family next door, your family, or the family as a whole, is to bring it back to where strength is found, to Jesus Christ himself. “You must be born again.”
What I am suggesting for your family and for mine is that a living, personal union with Jesus Christ is the source of family strength. Rules for living are insufficient. Tradition is another empty well –unless it is a heritage of Christ renewed by each generation. He alone is Lord of the family, and he calls each member to seek him, live in communion with him through prayer and the word, and to carry out his assigned responsibilities out of love for him. Short of this, there is little future for the family. Since, however, I also believe that Jesus Christ came to save the world and that he is ruling over all things to save it, the family itself will be saved. By Jesus Christ.
Husbands and fathers must take this to heart. You are called to lay down your life for your wife, die to yourself and your lusts, keep your covenant with her, and rejoice in her. Can you do this? No. Millions every year say they will, but they cannot, and this failure is almost as severe in professedly Christian homes as in their unbelieving counterparts. You are called to instruct your children in God’s word, to set before them a godly example, to enter into their cares and hurts, and in every way to image our heavenly Father’s love. Can you do this? No. It is completely beyond your strength.
It is not beyond Jesus’. If you want to dig deeply into the root causes of our societal calamity, its broken homes, its brazen immorality, and even its paternalistic views of government, look no further than the failure of husband and fathers, over generations, to abide in Christ. If you abide in him, your life will change. You will not shout or pout. He will give you patience. You will not treat your wife with indifference but dwell with her in an understanding way. You will teach your children with words that God will bless to seize their hearts. Jesus Christ will do this. Give him your heart, your first and last minutes of each day, your eyes, and all your affections, and see if he will not open the heavens and pour out blessing upon you. This will not be because you master rules but because you are ruled by your Master. He changes everything. To be a faithful husband and loving father, he must change you.
What Christian wife, hearing that she must submit to her husband as the church to Christ, will think she is able to do this? The curse fights back – I will be my own woman. None but Christ can give grace “far as the curse is found.” None but a soul in union with him, a woman who loves him wholly and seeks his strength, can submit cheerfully to a sinful husband. Look at the glory of Christ, dear sister, his obedience unto death, his work at God’s right hand, his “I am the vine,” and you will find strength.
Your daughters, by God’s grace, will desire to imitate your loveliness, your modest adornment with meekness and good works. They will admire the way you serve without complaining, yield without sighing, and love without drawing attention to yourself. The Lamb must be all your glory. In him you will be able to teach, discipline, and nurture crying babies and crazy toddlers and trying teens with patience. In him you will not see your role as a degradation of woman but as a “you did it unto me.” Your children will rise up and call you blessed, not run away at the first opportunity. This is Christ in you drawing them to him. Control, rules, pills, and mothers’ morning out can never do for you and your family what Jesus Christ can. Pour out your heart to him. Give him your heart. Trust him with your fears by leaving them at his feet.
Before considering children, I want to be clear. Union with Jesus Christ does not mean rules and order are unnecessary. But do you derive them from Christ or from what seems to work for you and perhaps what will make your life easier? Neither husbands and wives nor fathers and mothers will know the power of Christ unless we forsake our desire for an easier path. If the path is hard, more fellowship with him will make the burden lighter, for he will carry you. He will carry you – and give you wisdom, strength, firmness when required, gospel compassion at all times. He uses means to accomplish his will in our families, and some are better than others, but none are eternally effectual apart from his presence and power in your home. Christ must be in your home. You must leave out the welcome mat for him through prayer and obedience. Remember that he makes his home with the obedient (John 14:21-23).
It is futile to talk about the family without considering the role God has given children. The godliest parents in the world and the most loving example of a godly marriage will not bear its fruit unto holiness unless children bend their ear and listen to instruction. Jesus says, “Obey your parents in the Lord: in his strength, in fellowship with him, because it pleases him and you love him and love pleasing him. Do you? Or, God forbid, are your eyes blind to the glory you have seen in your home and your heart hard against the gospel entreaties I assume your parents have made?
God commands you to continue in the faith of your fathers. He never gives you permission to seek out your own path. Never. I know that the world calls this narrow. Some will mock you for not taking at least a sip of worldly pleasure and forgetfulness of God. The flesh craves independence and life on its terms. What is this? Have we suddenly reached the place that every sinful inclination and personal whim must be indulged? Simply because you have a desire to do something does not mean it is from him. Unless you are walking in union with Jesus, holding fast to him, your fallen desires will ruin your life and lose your soul. Ah, but I will pull back in time. Millions in hell at this moment thought the same thing. I will return to the God of my father and mother after a little season of indulgence – only to find that sin was too powerful to forsake. The chains tightened. The fear and guilt multiplied until it was too late. Christ became a haunting memory to them but only a condemning one. Jesus says: “Hear my children, the instruction of a father, and bind your heart with the law of your mother.”
Christ in our homes is challenging. We would welcome him, of course, but we see his glory now through a glass, a dim reflection of what will be. You feel too weak to come to him. Too much has to change in order to have him as a member, not a guest in your home, the most important member. Too many sins have harmed relationships. It is too late. No, it is not. It is never too late for Jesus Christ to dwell with us. As bad as the church in Laodicea was – and bad families were certainly a contributing factor to this – Jesus stood at the door and knocked. He was about to spit them out of his mouth, but instead he offered to kiss them. He is merciful. He never throws away the one who turns to him. He is able to save your family and to sanctify it.
Is your family in midcourse? Everyone is going here and there, children are developing their own schedules, getting married and moving forward with their lives. You perhaps feel that life is getting away from you. It may very well be, but remember that the anchor of the family never changes. Speak to your children, young and older, about Jesus. Bring him into your home, into your life and into the lives of everyone under your roof. He offers to dwell with you. Do not turn him away. He will be the most treasured member of your family.