(Jesus said) “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” – Matthew 12.49 – 50From Martin Haywood:
There was a really encouraging article in my newspaper over this past weekend. A reporter gave the results of a survey among parents about how being locked-down together with their children had affected their family life. Despite all the difficulties of home-schooling and constantly being on top of each other, parents have enjoyed having a chance to spend quality time together with their children rather than passing like ships in the night. I mentioned this to a couple of families and they readily agreed that this had been their experience too. It may seem counter-intuitive but lockdown has been especially good for relationships between some Dads and their teenagers as they have used the time to reconnect and re-enforce all those strong ties which they enjoyed when the children were younger. One dad told me how he had enjoyed getting to know his teenagers again.
Sadly, however, I know that on the other side of the coin there have been too many other families where close proximity has led to friction and even violence.
History shows that it has always been a challenge to create good family relationships (look at the story of the prodigal son and his jealous elder brother, Jacob and Esau, or Josephs’ complicated relationship with his brothers). It is even more difficult today as changing family patterns mean that the wider family and local community are less directly involved in raising children. Changing gender roles have also altered things giving more options but also more demands.
So, what is at the heart of good family relationships? At best are unconditional love, protection, encouragement and emotional security; the family should be a place where mistakes can be made and forgiven, lessons learned and vulnerabilities accepted. And, of course, most important of all a Christian home is where the presence of Jesus is always recognised, respected and openly acknowledged. It’s where God’s law is taught and demonstrated in lifestyle by loving parents.
But what about those homes which are less than perfect and where the children get a distorted view of family? Well, that’s where the church family comes in – a group of people all connected together by their love of Jesus. None of us can choose the families in which we grow up but we do choose our church family, expecting to find there the healing, encouraging environment of unconditional love that may have been missing at home.
Parents have a weighty responsibility for the children they raise as their family; as a church we have an equally weighty responsibility to offer warmth, acceptance, love and the fellowship of Christ to all who choose us as their family.