I was praying and a question came up that I never really paid that much attention to. I mean, I did give it some thought. With my past, who wouldn’t? But the question was this. What is family, anyway? Is it a hotbed of problems, controversy, and disorders that we hear about so much on tv and all that? Is it the sugar-coated mess we get from hallmark cards and Christmas specials? Is it a bunch of strangers that somehow get tossed together and need to somehow work together to survive or hang separately because of their lack of being able to work together? Is it something completely random? Is it all based on genes and chemicals? What is family?
God makes some of it kind of clear, through his word. He writes how they should behave anyway. The children obey the parents, the wife obeys her husband and the husband obeys Christ as his head. Then it goes further. Husbands love their wives sacrificially, parents do not exasperate their children. Just from the examples, it sounds like families, if it was all based on what God wants, is all based on mutual love and obedience. One will not work without the other. Without the love of the husband to tenderly take care of the wife and make her feel like she is worthy and respected by her husband, she would have a far harder time trying to show obedience and deference to her husband as the head of the house. IF the children are not cared for and allowed to grow, then it’s much harder for them to be obedient as they need to.
To me, God seemed to have some kind of plan with families. A very elaborate, and potentially risky experiment. He wants the family to be a reflection of his own unselfish love for us. Each family member has an option every day of their life to be able to show complete, unselfish, selfless love for another human being. And not just once that day, but many, many times that day. It is an elaborate experiment because the more members there are, the more opportunity there is for agape love, the more each member managed to rise above mere human nature to put on God-like love, the more gloriously it reflects God’s great love to a suffering world that so desperately need to see this.
It is risky because Satan knows and is trying to tear it down before anything can come from it. Why did he attack Eve? He was hitting the first family before it had a chance to take root. And he’s been attacking her family, and all families after brutally, relentlessly ever since. Even Jesus’s earthly family was not spared this attack. Far from it. Before Jesus was born, Mary was branded with adultery, and when Joseph married her, it was assumed that he was a part of it as well. There was the early death(it is assumed) Of Joseph, making the family a single-parent one, they were poor, most likely even in want. His own brothers and sisters and mother sometimes acted as though Jesus was mad. At least once Mary dragged him into a situation he seemed to feel he didn’t need to be dragged into.
If Jesus couldn’t have the perfect, hallmark family, what makes the rest of us think we could? Satan certainly wants us to go one of two ways here. He wants us to feel as though we should be able to have a perfect family and practically destroy it in our frantic effort to hold it together and make it perfect without any reliance on God, or to see it falling apart, and give it up as a hopelessly flawed thing without hope for recovery, and also without turning to God.
Seems like, to fight Satan, our first course of action is to turn to God, then. Turn to God. Cling to God. Plead with him to fill us with his love and understanding and then go and show what God gave us to the rest of the people in our small corner of the world. Starting with those nearest and closest to us. The ones that see behind the mask. The ones that know as much of the real us as the fallen world ever allows us to know each other’s real sides. And then go back to God, and thank him for giving you the strength to be loving and vulnerable, no matter what. Wash, rinse and repeat. And then repeat it again. And maybe, just maybe, the family you are in could show a tiny glimmer of the glorious light and life that spills out of heaven. Just maybe, other families will see that light, and want some of it for themselves. And with time, maybe, just maybe, those families will start showing glimmers of heaven too.
Wouldn’t that be heavenly?