by Rick Pidcock
This month we will be focusing on living worship in the home. No matter what type of home you have, you probably spend most of your time there. And since worship encompasses all of life, then it is vital for the health and growth of our homes that we have a biblical understanding of what having a Christ-centered home looks like theologically as well as practically.
1. A Christ-centered home is one that is transparent about sin.
The reality of every home is that it is filled with sinners. Every home is a broken home. Some are broken in different ways than others. But they all have been broken by sin.
Unfortunately, many of us begin with the presupposition that every family member knows how to and has the desire to live in a Christ-like manner toward us. But we should begin with the assumption that we are all sinners (Romans 3:23).
If it is true then that we are all sinners, then we should be open with each other about our sin nature and sin tendencies. Parents should not present themselves to their kids as if they have it all together for fear of their kids turning out just like they have. And each child should not be afraid to approach his parents with something that he is struggling with for fear of their anger and punishment. Because the home is God’s first context for growth, the home should be the most transparent context in your life about your sin.
2. A Christ-centered home is one that deals with sin through a gospel perspective.
With the understanding that every home is broken by sin, we must know how to deal with each sin through a gospel perspective.
This begins by understanding that the reality of sin is expected. All to often, I hear of Christian homes where everyone is expected to be at their best behavior at all times. Parents expect their kids to do their homework every day. They expect their kids to relate to authorities in a respectful manner. Kids expect their parents to be reasonable all the time. They expect their parents to treat them respectfully, even when they have treated their parents with disrespect. And yet, if we are all sinners, then our expectation for one another should be that we will all sin. We should not expect people that are marred by sin in every of life to be perfect in every area of life.
There should be no shock factor when it comes to dealing with sin in the family. If your child is a sinner, then why would you be so shocked when he uses bad language? If your parent is a sinner, then why would you be overcome with surprise when they treat you unfairly? We should expect that every member of every home will sin.
When sin does occur, it must be confronted in a gospel-centered way that ultimately points to the cross. Most of the time, we confront family members about their sin by appealing to their own mental stability as a human being, rather than by pointing their attention to the cross. We ask, “How could you be so stupid?” rather than saying, “Christ died so that you no longer have to be enslaved to that sin.”
Once the relationship has been restored, the forgiveness of sin is complete. Psalm 103:12 says, “As far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.” While their may be natural consequences of our sin, God will never bring up past forgiven sin in order to make us feel guilty enough to hopefully turn back to Him. He reminds us of His forgiveness all the time. But He never brings up specific situations that have been resolved as a scare tactic in order to give Himself the upper ground in the broken relationship.
In the same way, once we have forgiven a family member of a wrong doing, we must not continue bringing it up as a strategy to make us feel good about ourselves and to make them feel guilty about what they have done. Instead, we must offer full and complete forgiveness.
3. A Christ-centered home is one that pursues Christian growth through a gospel perspective.
The home is God’s primary context for spiritual growth in the lives of Christians. And while most of us would desire to see growth in the hearts of our families, most of us pursue that growth in a man-centered way.
One man-centered approach to spiritual growth is the military approach. These homes are governed by discipline in every area of life. I once knew a family who’s father would bounce a quarter on every child’s bed each morning in order to make sure that the sheets contained no wrinkles. A family with this approach to growth is worshiping the idol of control.
Another man-centered approach to spiritual growth is the family name approach. Have you ever heard or said the phrase, “If you do that, then it is going to reflect bad upon the family”? While this may seem like a more reasonable approach, it still is not pursuing growth in the way God intends. Instead, a family with this approach to growth is worshiping the idol of family reputation.
A third common man-centered approach to spiritual growth is the fear-of-judgment approach. This approach usually surfaces when one of the children desires to do something that is not forbidden in Scripture, but that the parent feels so strongly against. The parent tells his children, “I am going to answer to God one day. And if I let you do this, then your life will end up going down the path of ruin. And then I will be in big trouble on judgment day.” In other words, the parent is saying that his children should live their lives in fear of getting their dad in trouble with God at the judgment seat. And besides the fact that Romans 8:1 says that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, this man is worshiping the idol of self-righteous moralism. He believes that God’s approval of him depends upon whether or not his children’s lives get ruined over his allowing them to listen to Steve Green. However, if their lives did get ruined, then it would be because of a much deeper problem than the father’s lack of extra-biblical “safety” rules.
A fourth common man-centered approach to spiritual growth is the democracy approach. This is a more hands-off view of parenting. It basically places the children on the same authoritative level as the parents. It says, “Let’s take a vote,” rather than “This is the direction that I believe God wants us to take.” It is more concerned with harmony than with direction. This family is worshiping the god of peer pressure.
A fifth common man-centered approach to spiritual growth is the advisor approach. In this approach, the parents are considered to be mere advisors that the children can occasionally come to for advice at their own leisure. This is perhaps the most hands-off approach, other than complete lack of involvement. Rather than guiding the children, the parents mostly allow the children to figure things out on their own. And while self-discipline and wisdom are important manifestations of personal and spiritual growth, parents should never just view themselves as mere advisors. This family is worshiping the gods of human goodness and individuality. It believes that every family member is basically good and is able to figure things out for the most part on their own.
I am sure that there are other approaches to spiritual growth that I have not mentioned. But these examples were just a few major ones that I have seen within Christian homes.
So if we are to avoid falling into the traps of these man-centered approaches to spiritual growth, then what is the Christ-centered avenue for growth?
Colossians 2:6-7 says, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
Spiritual growth occurs in the same way that salvation initially begins-by faith in the gospel of Christ. Just as salvation is by faith and not by works, our ongoing spiritual growth is by faith and not by works. This is why having a Christ-centered view of spiritual growth is so vital to the health and direction of your family.
If you govern by discipline, then there will come a time when you will lose control. If you are driven by continuing your family name, then one day your name will be dishonored, and you will feel as if your whole life was useless. If you are consumed with fear of judgment, then you will live your entire life depressed and on edge. And if you are concerned with being accepted by your children as the cool parents, then you will never provide for them the kind of leadership that they so desperately want and need. Each of these approaches to growth are temporary human distractions from the one true way that will bring lasting change.
However, because the gospel of Christ will never change, it is vital that every family pursue the spiritual growth of its members through faith in the gospel of Christ. And thus, if the children do turn from the truth, they will be turning from the gospel of Christ, and not from the agenda of the parents.
Concerning these man-centered approaches to growth, Paul says in Colossians 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.”
4. A Christ-centered home is one that models the gospel in every relationship.
Having an understanding of our own sinfulness, and our own need of the gospel frees us up to live as models of the gospel in every relationship.
The husband and wife relationship that is transformed by the gospel is not one of mere sexual gratification, financial security, and companionship. While those are all benefits that come with marriage, they are not the main points of it. A marriage that is transformed by the gospel is thus viewed as a model of the gospel in this world for magnifying the supremacy of God and for making disciples.
The parent and child relationship that is transformed by the gospel is not one of mere provision, guidance, and support. And again, while those benefits are all an important part of the family, they are not the main purposes of being a family. The parent/child relationship that is transformed by the gospel is also viewed as a model of the gospel in this world for magnifying the supremacy of God and for making disciples.
The relationship between siblings that is transformed by the gospel is not one of mere getting along. But the relationship that children have with one another must be transformed by the fact that we have been made brothers and sisters with Christ. And thus, these relationships should also be viewed as a model of the gospel in this world for magnifying the supremacy of God and for making disciples. And while I do not expect children to read this article, it is important that parents understand what their children should be modeling with each other in order for the parents to disciple them more effectively toward that goal.
While husbands and wives model the relationship between Christ and the church, parents and children should model the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. And in the same way, siblings should model the relationship that they have as being co-heirs with Christ.
Throughout this month, I will be writing a few articles, each discussing how the specific family relationships can model the gospel both theologically and practically. And I pray that as you read, you will ultimately be pointed back to Christ, and not just to the latest trend of raising a family. And as you see Christ, I hope that you will respond in repentant faith and live your lives at home in worship to Him.
*The picture at the top of the article is of the house that Ruth Ellen and I bought in October of 2005. It is the first home that we have owned.
*The picture at the bottom of the article is of my family leaving Colorado back in 1994. I’m sure that my brothers will love the idea of this picture being posted on the internet.