I love my family. I love being a husband. We celebrate sixteen years of marriage this week and I can’t imagine living life with anyone else. I love being a father. I have two kids that delight my soul. I can’t wait to see them in the morning before I head off to the church and I am always anxious to see them in the evening when I return. There are few things I enjoy more in this life than being a father. I love my family. However, having said that, I want to be on guard against loving them inordinately.
I am thankful for the growing emphasis upon the Christian family in evangelical circles. Our two children are home schooled, so I am in no way opposed to homeschooling. We attempt to practice family worship each night of the week, so I am not opposed to family worship. For goodness sakes, I wrote on a book on the subject. I am passionate about it. We have attempted to have our children in corporate worship with us since they were babies. I am working on a book on that subject as well, so I am not opposed to children in worship. However, there does seem to be a tendency with the home school/family worship/children in worship emphasis that can turn this good thing upon its head. If we aren’t careful, instead of encouraging worshipping families, we become family worshippers. The following are possible signs that we have begun worshipping the family rather than encouraging our family to be worshippers:
We Seldom Host Others: If our home is seen primarily as a citadel set against the world, there is a problem. A home centered upon Christ will be marked by growing hospitality. It is a way station of truth and worship. We gladly invite others into it for rest, encouragement, and strengthening.
We Seldom Reach Out to Others: If our family is so insular that others don’t know us, there is a problem. A Christian family filled with love and worship should overflow to those around them. Neighbors and co-workers can’t help but be touched by the love that permeates in and cascades from our family.
We Seldom Serve in the Church: If our family is so focused on just being a family that we can’t attend mid-week bible studies or are so intent on being together Sunday morning that the parents can’t teach Sunday School or assist in the nursery, there is a problem. As a Christian family we are to see ourselves as part of the community. Not separate from it. Not more important than it. But essential to it.
We Seldom Have Time: If our family is always busy with its own activities, whether soccer, piano, ballet, family vacations, or even family worship to the point that we have little time for others, there is a problem. The enrichment and growth of our children, even in spiritual things, is not to pull us away from people but towards them. Yes, we only have so many years to train and teach our children while they are at home. But are we teaching them that they and their activities are the center of life or worshipping Christ and loving others is what is most important?
We Seldom Sacrifice: If our family is reluctant to give generously, because of what it costs our family, there is a problem. We hesitate to give above our tithe to missionaries, the local church, the building fund, or the homeless shelter because our children’s college education comes first. We neglect supporting the church member headed out on a short-term mission’s trip, because our family “educational trip” is more important. We always have an excuse. And it is always our family’s need that provides the ground for that excuse. Rather, the Christian family should be generous in giving—generous to the point of giving sacrificially.
We Seldom Have Flexibility: If others feel like they are always interrupting our family by calling, visiting, or proposing a time to get-together, there is a problem. Others will notice it before us. They begin to feel like our family’s routine cannot be interrupted under any circumstances. We convey this consciously or even subconsciously and others pickup on it. Rather, our family should be noted by its flexibility and joy when others stop by, friendliness when called, and availability when needed.
We Seldom Speak Well of Others: If our family tends to have an arrogant air about it, there is a problem. We have it together. Others don’t quite understand the importance of the family, worship, and our calling as parents. Our conversations are too often critical and judgmental. If only others understood as we do. May it never be! Our families should be filled with thanking God for others. Our children should hear us commending and promoting others. People should find that we are refreshing to their souls, rather than critical of their practices.
By all means, let us enjoy and treasure our families. Let us celebrate the gift they are. Let us pour out our lives and hearts into ministering to our spouse, rearing our children in Christ, and filling our homes with the love and truth of Christ. However, in so doing, let us also be worshippers of the Christ we are seeking to honor. Let us worship Him in our worshipping families, rather than worship our families in the name of worshipping Him.