3. Our Relationship With Our Physical Family

Introduction

In the series so far, we’ve looked at our relationship with creation and our relationship with sin. And we saw that when we prefer to have a relationship with sin rather than God it has devasting effects on our lives.

In this lesson, we’re going to look at our relationship with our physical families.

When God created humans, He created them as social beings and when God created the institute of family, He did so because He wants families to be the building blocks of society. In society today, there seems to be a slow but steady breakdown within our families.

A lot of people now choose not to get married and would rather just live together. Divorce is at an all-time high, kids are getting involved in gangs and knife crime and more and more of our young people end up being addicted to alcohol and drugs. I mean families are breaking down and our society is feeling the effects of that family breakdown.

We only have to open our Bibles to the Book of Genesis to discover the importance of family.

‘So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number.’ Genesis 1:27-28

When God created Adam and Eve, He gave them the responsibility of caring for the garden but also the responsibility to increase in number.

When you think about it, it’s within the family that we learn the basics of life. We learn how to love and care for others, we learn right from wrong.

We learn about emotions, safety and relationships. We learn what it means to honour our family and how to work together as one. We learn about God and what it means to have faith.

Our families are a rich blessing from God, where we can grow and learn about the basics of life. We often hear people speaking about family bonds which implies they have a really strong connection with each other. But those strong connections don’t just happen overnight, they need to be developed over time.

Those connections begin when your baby is born when you hold them in your arms straight after birth. Those connections continue when you feed them and change their nappies. Those connections continue when you help them to walk and encourage them to speak.

Helping them through school and going on holiday together, laughing together, and crying together when difficulties come. All of these things help build those strong connections with our families. Those memories we create within our families remind us that we are one, we belong together.

When we think about the model family, we don’t have to look too hard within the Bible to find one. Joseph and Mary are great example of what a godly family looks like. Jesus was raised in a deeply religious home.

His family faithfully followed God’s instructions concerning the annual religious festivals and when Jesus was old enough, they took Him with them, Luke 2:41-42. When Jesus grew up, Joseph taught him a trade, which was carpentry. To be a carpenter you need skill, patience and hard work.

And we know that Mary and Joseph were godly parents because Jesus not only was obedient to them but He grew in favour with God but also with man, Luke 2:51-52.

You see, godly families reflect their relationship with their creator. Godly families like Ruth, Naomi, and Boaz, Elkanah and Hannah, Priscilla and Aquila. Godly families show the world what God intended families to be like in the first place.

I understand that not all families function as they should, and I understand that some families cause more damage than good. I understand that some of you were raised in a godly family, but I also understand that some of us were raised in an ungodly family.

And we don’t have to open our Bible too far to find an example of an ungodly family. We saw in our last lesson the mess that Adam and Eve got themselves into because of their sinfulness. We left them blaming each other for their sinfulness, Genesis 3:11-13, and being thrown out of the Garden forever, Genesis 3:23-24.

Imagine what it would have been like for Adam and Eve to have their first child.

‘Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, “With the help of the LORD I have brought forth a man.’ Genesis 4:1

No child ever entered this world with a greater measure of hope than Cain. Remember they have never gone through pregnancy before, it’s a totally new experience for them.

Her body starts changing, she is going through all kinds of feelings she never had before, and then she delivers a baby, something that has never been done before.

And she says on the day that boy is born, ‘Quanah’ or ‘acquired’. That’s what she named that baby.  The idea was, ‘here he is’ or ‘I’ve gotten him’. In fact, the Hebrew literally says, ‘I have gotten a man, the Lord’.

‘And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.’ Genesis 3:15

In other words, what she was saying was, ‘here is the deliverer, here is the head crusher.’ But as we read on the great irony is, that Cain is not going to be a saviour, he is going to be a killer. In other words, because of sin, not only did their relationship with God break down but so did their family relationship.

We read about sin breaking down the families of Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph and his brothers. In other words, when sin is rampant within a family, it will ultimately break those close connections with each other, and it will break down our relationship with God.

‘After the dedication of his baby brother in church, little Johnny sobbed all the way home in the back seat of the car. His father asked him three times what was wrong. Finally the boy replied, “That pastor said he wanted us brought up in a Christian home, and I want to stay with you guys!”

Families are supposed to be a blessing from God, children are supposed to be a blessing from God. Parents have the special privilege and responsibility to raise their children by training and instructing them in the ways of the Lord so that they may come to know Christ, Ephesians 6:4.

Now let me tell you what parents are not responsible for. Just because you raise your child in the Scriptures, just because you showed them what saving faith looks like, just because you’ve demonstrated to them how a Christian lives. This is no guarantee that they will grow up to become Christians or stay faithful all their lives.

Now I say this because many parents feel like they’ve failed if their kids don’t become Christians or fall away. But you’re not a failure, not once in the Scriptures does it say you are responsible for your children becoming Christians or remaining faithful.

If God holds parents accountable for anything, it’s raising our children up in His ways, Proverbs 22:6. But becoming a Christian is their choice, remaining faithful is their choice.

Now most families that are broken, are broken because they have lost sight of who and what is the priority in the midst of their family. Godly families are usually healthy families because they have one priority and that is God.

But what happens when families break down because mum or dad decide they don’t want to follow God anymore? What happens when your husband or wife says to you, it’s God or our marriage?

Jesus tells us that these very scenarios were going to happen in His day and indeed today, Matthew 10:37. He says, that when someone becomes a Christian, the chances are, it’s going to affect the relationship with their families.

And He says, when that happens, when tension arises within a family because one of them decides to become a follower of Christ and the others don’t like it, what are you going to do? Are you going to follow Jesus or give in to your family?

Jesus is not saying that we shouldn’t love our families or neglect our families. He’s letting us know that there will be times when the temptation to please our families is going to be more powerful that our decision to follow Jesus.

‘If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.’ Luke 14:26

Did Jesus literally mean that we should hate our families and our own lives? Of course not, the key to understanding what Jesus means is found in the word ‘hate’ which simply means to love less.

‘Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.’ Matthew 10:37

Jesus is simply saying what He said in, Luke 14:26. Jesus is saying that even if a person’s family comes to stand between them and their Lord, then a choice needs to be made. A choice between the natural affection of family or a devotion to their Saviour Jesus Christ.

And sadly, that’s where many a Christian fall, where friends and family give us a choice sometimes daily. We’re faced with choices every day and the way to deal with those choices is to ask ourselves a simple question.

Which choice has in mind the things of God? And which choice has in mind the things of men?

Too many Christians choose wrongly, that’s why they have abandoned the faith and you never see them anymore. But the true followers of Christ will always be and must be ready to treat their dearest friends and family as those who are opposed to God and His ways.

Joshua stood up in the midst of the Israelite nation and gave them a choice. They can go back to serving gods which don’t exist, or they can follow the One True God. But notice that Joshua declared that he and his family had already made their choice, they choose to serve the Lord, Joshua 24:14-15.

The question is simply this, who will you choose? The world? Your physical family? Or the One who died on Calvary?

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