“A REAL FAMILY”                                                        By Pastor YAU

Text: 1 Peter 4:7-11                                                          July 8, 2007

 

INTRODUCTION:

1)   A business gimmick: A California home builder has come up with an innovative idea to sell his houses. He thinks that a good way to make a house like a home will be more appealing to potential home buyers. So he hires actors and actresses to play a “Happy Family” in his model homes. These hired people will play roles of family members doing cooking, watching TV, playing games, reading books and doing other things most families will do. Would-be buyers may ask them about the house and things related to this “fake” family while they wander through the house.

2)   The endangered species: While this fake family may not do any harm to anyone, today many families, though not played by actors or actresses, are like the fake ones in the model homes. Although people live under the same roof, eat on the same table, ride in the same cars, many families are as fragmented and fake as strangers staying in the same hotel. Everyone in the family has his/her own purpose and agenda of life. Seldom, if any, will they work together for the common good for all. The failure of the family system has been blamed for many behavioral, mental and social problems.

 

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE FAMILY:

1)    It is God’s creation: Family is the first social institution God has created. The other is the church created by the Lord Jesus. Family was created for the relationship between people while the church was created for the relationship between man and his God. Family is formed by people who are physically related while the church is formed by people who are spiritually related. Family is for the promotion of human happiness and procreation of human race while the church is for the promotion of spiritual growth and the advancement of God’s Kingdom. As the crown jewel of God’s creation, family is to be highly respected and honored.

2)    It is the foundation of society: Among other things, the collapse or purposeful breaking up on the importance of family, replaced by government controlled “communes” contributed adversely to the downfall of the social and economic system in many Communist countries especially in China in the 1960s. The deterioration of the family system in Western culture in the past century, particularly in Europe and here in the US has turned the social order up sit down. Rapid growth of crime, social disorder, divorce, abortion, teen pregnancy, drug addition and many other social problems all are blamed on the down fall of the family system. Without a strong family system, social system is too fragile to exist or maintain.

3)    It is where our children grow: Since the dawn of human history, no other institution has come close to the value of family in raising children. The kind of love, care, teaching, discipline, training and building personality, forming character and many other important elements in the growth of a person are best done in the family. This is a universal phenomenon regardless of culture or time. It is in the family, children are born, raised, fed, taught and protected by the parents and extended family. No other social structure may raise children like family can. Many children suffer irreversible emotional and mental damages because of the break down of their families. It is ardently important that children have strong family to raise them, support them and grow them into adulthood.

4)    It is the future of the church: While some of us became Christians because of the influence of friends and others, family is still the best place where children learn about God, the Bible and salvation in Jesus. After the initial Christian generation, family or the home is the best place for teaching children the most important part of their lives: their personal relationship with God. Since the early promise in the Bible, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, you shall be saved, you and your household,” (Acts 16:31) millions were saved because of the witness and example of Christian parents and others in the family. Just look around you and count how many of them became Christians because of their family. As long as families are strong, the church will continue to be strong.

WHAT IS NOT A FAMILY?

1)   It is not the house: Just as the biblical definition of the “church” is not the building but the people, “family” is not the house but also the people. The “house” here refers to the physical place we live and all the “things” we have in it. Too often, we misunderstand the importance of the family by placing so much on what kind of house we live in and what kind of things we have in that house. We put so much energy and time to fill our houses with so many things at the expense of recognizing the importance of each and every person in the family. Many parents misinterpret the family by providing a big house and many things to their kids as the same as caring and loving them. Many couples spend so much time and energy to acquire many possessions as the same as loving and caring for each other. You may have a beautiful house and beautiful things in it, but may not have a beautiful family.

2)   It is not for convenience: Anyone who is married learns, often times the hard way, to have a family is never something for your convenience. It is not a place you can come to after a day’s work and enjoy some good food and warm relationship without putting in equal or more amount of energy, both emotional and physical, to make it happen. Thinking that everyone else in the family owes you everything is so wrong a thought but it happens in many families. The fact is you, a parent or a child, are responsible to your family, as much as everyone else is. No one is responsible to provide you any convenience when you don’t even lift a finger. In a family, it is teamwork that makes it a sweet place to come to.

3)   It is not for your needs: Everyone has needs: material, emotional, physical and spiritual. Some may think that by getting married and have a family his needs will be met automatically. The truth is far from it. Needs are met when someone is willing to give and that someone needs to begin with you, the giver. When everyone in the family is eager to give, all needs in that family will be met. When no one is willing to give, no need is going to be met. It is that simple. Family is a place we learn to give, not demand to receive. If you learn to give in your family, you will be fine anywhere else.

4)   It is not a perfect place: Just as no one is perfect, no family is perfect either. Every family has its strength and weaknesses. It is a place we learn to grow, to do more, to understand each other better and to contribute more to the total well being of the family. To be envious of another family or dream of a different one is never the answer. The correct answer is there is room to grow both in you and in your family and continue to work on it, never stop. Giving up what you have without working hard to make it better is a bad choice. When you grow better and try harder, your family will become sweeter.

 

A REAL FAMILY, GOD’S WAY: (1 Peter 4:7-11)

1)   You need to pray: “Therefore be clear minded . . . so you can pray.” (4:7)We are asked to pray for our family, everyone in it: our spouse, children, parents, etc. Pray for their spiritual condition, pray for their walk with God, their personal growth, their character formation, their problems and everything else we know and care about them. How often do you pray for your family? Prayer represents a close relationship with God and it is in Him we need to build our families. What is the foundation of your family?

2)   We need to love: “Above all, love each other deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (4:8)No power is stronger to keep a family together than love. We all have sinned against each other in our family from time to time. But love will cover all sins. Paul says, “Love doesn’t keep records of wrongs.” (1 Corinth. 13:5)Try to love everyone in your family regardless of if they deserve it.

3)   You need to serve: “Offer hospitality to one another without grum-bling. Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others. Faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms” (4:9-10) Hospitality here means meeting needs, serving people. We all love to be served than to serve. But Jesus told us that “He came to serve and not to be served.” (Mark 10:45)Do something nice to someone in your family without being asked and you will see the miracles of joy and gratitude. Today, too many children are being spoiled that they never learn the importance to serve. It is through your service you make real contribution as a human being.

4)   You need to glorify God: Peter admonished us to use our gifts faithfully so “in all things God may be praised (glorified).” (4:11) Many successful people, including those in the church, had done many good things to glorify God but have failed miserably in their family life. We need to glorify God in our family life as well as in our public and business life. If we fail in our family life, no other achievement means anything at the end of the day. If we fail in our family life, we fail more than those in our family, we fail God.

 

CONCLUSION:

1)   Family first: This message is a follow-up of the Parents’ Day message last month: “How to Honor Our Parents.” It is written for both the parents and children to address the value and importance of family. Put your family and everyone in it first on your list of priorities. Don’t let anything else distract you from making your family a sweet place you long to go back to everyday.

2)   Follow the rules: God has given us some simple, practical and easy to do rules to make our family strong and sweet. Get rid of those selfish and self gratification ideas of your family. Love, give and work hard to build the best family you can. You will enjoy the fruits of your labor and God will be glorified as well.

3)   Into God’s family: God plans a much bigger family for you, His church. By accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior, confess your sins and receive forgiveness, you will be part of God’s big family here on earth today and in heaven after this world.