Witnessing to Our Family
Witnessing to Our Family
Witnessing to Our Family
Introduction: If you were to ask the average person where the hardest place in the world is to be a Christian, where would they say? - China? Cuba? Former Soviet Union? India? - Most would name someplace where Christianity has been outlawed. - But we've found as the walls of communism have come down there are many within those countries who have been living out a vital faith all along. Some people would say the hardest place to be a Christian is in the modern business world. - The place where competition, often cutthroat, is the way of life. - But nearly every church can point to business leaders who are outstanding Christians. - Men & women who have held their faith in spite of where they work. Some people would say that the entertainment field is the hardest place to be a Christian amidst the falsity, glamour, & hedonism. - But various well-known entertainers have shown real Christian commitment. Some others would suggest the athletic arena as the hardest place in the world to be a Christian. - But the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, can point to champion athletes who also champion Christ. Most of you know where I'm going with this, for most of you know that the hardest place to be a Christian is in your own home. - It is among your own family, your wives/husbands, daughters/sons, grandchildren/grandparents. - Perhaps it's because in the home we have followed Robert Frost's lines too literally when he said, "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." - And we have gone home w/all the grumpiness & bad temper & hurt feelings we can carry, knowing that they will take us in. - Maybe it's because at home we feel that we can drop all pretense & peel off all the layers that cover the life we present in public. - Maybe it's because the folks at home know us best & can really weigh what we say against what we are. - And maybe it's because we just don't try as hard at home to show the Christian virtues as we do elsewhere. - How many men are pictures of Christian concern in public but ruling tyrants at home? - How many women are the personification of Christian charity & grace in the Sunday School class but are real vixens in the home? Jesus recognized how hard it is to be Christian in our homes. - In Luke chp.8 beginning w/v.26 we find Jesus encounters a demon-possessed man that spent his days naked living among the tombs. - And we find out he wasn't possessed by just one demon, but a legion of them. - The people had chained him hand & foot & kept him under guard, but the demons that possessed him had enabled him to break the chains. - He was a threat to the people of that region. - They didn't want to be around him, they didn't want to think of him, they wished that somehow he would go away. - When Jesus met this man he cast his demons into a herd of pigs who ran into the lake and were drowned. - In v.38 we read that the man we call the "Gerasene demoniac" begged Jesus to be allowed to go with Him on His journeys. - But Jesus discouraged that. - He told Him, v. 39 "Return home & tell how much God has done for you." - Have you ever considered how hard this was for this man to do? - This man was to move among the people who had known him as a demoniac. - He would have to meet their questioning eyes as they wondered if faith had stuck w/him. - He would have to tell of grace & forgiveness, of discipline & power, to those very people who had known him best. - But this is what Jesus had instructed him to do. And this is what God has called us to do -- to be thoroughly Christian in our homes, the hardest place in the world to be a Christian. - And in this secular age the importance of the Christian home can hardly be overemphasized. - And we should praise God for men like James Dobson and Gary Bauer who are on the firing line every day trying to help us to be Christians in our homes. - But it still remains true that often are homes are the hardest places in the world to be Christian.
Transition: Today, I'd like us to consider three facts about being a Christian witness to our families.
1. BEING A WITNESS IN THE HOME DEMANDS THE COSTLIEST GIFT - To be Christian in the home demands the costliest gift of all--Yourself. - In this day in which parents are trying so hard to provide for their children all the advantages of life, they may be denying them the one thing they need the most---themselves. - It is easier to buy your child a book than to discuss the book or the facts of life. - It is easier to send your child to the movie than to spend some time together - It is easier to buy a ticket to the ball game than to play ball for awhile. - It may be more profitable from the standpoint of fish caught to go fishing w/an old fishing buddy; but it may be more profitable from the standpoint of life development to take your child fishing. - The most obvious gift---the gift of yourself, is the most costly gift. [- Kenneth Chafin wrote that he once came home from the office just in time for the evening meal. - They had hardly begun to eat when his daughter (5 yrs. old) asked if he would be home that night. - He was almost embarrassed to answer because he was to speak to a group that night on "What a Good Father Ought to be." - To soften her disappointment at his leaving he decided to ask her to give him some help w/the talk. - He placed a pencil & paper on the table & throughout the meal she would whisper in his ear what a good daddy ought to be. - The list compiled by the little girl said that a good daddy ought to: (1) Catch a fish (2) Build a fire (3) Fly a kite (4) Catch a butterfly (5) Plant a flower (6) Get a kittycat out of the mud. - While waiting to be introduced at his speaking engagement he reviewed the list. - Then it hit him: nothing his daughter wanted in an ideal father required his buying anything. - But everything she mentioned required him.] - Paul said () "If anyone does not provide for his relatives, & especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith & is worse than an unbeliever." - Perhaps Paul is speaking of meeting your families physical needs here, or do you think it might possibly go beyond that? - If my children are in need of food I should feed them; if they need clothes I am responsible to clothe them; but most of all we must realize that our children are in need of us. - If we give ourselves in trying to make our homes thoroughly Christian, then we will translate our beliefs into positive action.
2. BEING A WITNESS IN THE HOME DEMANDS THE HARDEST REQUIREMENT - The hardest requirement is the practice of love. - It is one thing to talk about love, but quite another to really practice love in our homes. - The Gerasene demoniac was told to "Return home & tell how much God has done for you." - This formerly unlovely man had to tell his family about the love of God. - But he had to do more than that--if they were to believe him he would have to practice God's love w/them. - The word "Sympathy" means to feel for someone. - The word "Empathy" means to feel with someone. - Empathy is an important aspect of the practice of love. - The Indians said, "never criticize someone else until you've walked a mile in his moccasins." - But in the home we find we often practice some alternatives to empathy. - Such things as: criticism; judgment; labeling; indifference; ridicule; sarcasm; or slander. - Empathy would be much better than any of these. - The ability to say to our hurting family member, "I hurt w/you." - The ability to say to our joyful family member, "I share your happiness." - The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. - The creation of an atmosphere of love in the home is another important aspect of the practice of love. - David & Virginia Edens once wrote: "Much of marital failure is due to little things. Marriage is not wrecked by a blowout but rather by a slow leak." - teaches how we should practice love in our homes, "Wives submit to your husbands as to the Lord." "Husbands love your wives just as Christ loved the church." "Children obey your parents in the Lord." - How hard it sometimes is for us to simply say "I love you." - Both to our spouses & to our children no matter what their age is. - How long has it been since you've said those words in your home? - How long since you've been able to express what you really feel in your heart?
3. BEING A WITNESS IN THE HOME DEMANDS THE STRONGEST EFFORT - The strongest effort that must be put forth is that of unconditional commitment to one another. - If the demoniac was to be an effective witness for Christ while he was apart from Christ, it would call for an unconditional commitment to Christ. - Elton Trueblood observed, "The first essential of marriage is the acceptance of, in advance, of the relationship as unconditional." - The best way we can show the love of Christ in our home is to let those in our home know that we love them unconditionally. - If our spouse does something we don't like or approve of, we need to let them know that we still love them. - If our children disobey & rebel against us we need to let them know that we still love them. - Our God loves us unconditionally, "For God so loved the WORLD". - God doesn't put conditions on His love. He loves the WORLD. Christian & non-Christian alike. - We must learn to love our families in the same way. - Is it easy to love my child when he/she rebels against me? No. - Is it easy to love our spouse when he/she does something to hurt us? No. - Being Christian in the home demands the strongest effort because it demands that we love not like men, but like God. - It demands that we make no demands or conditions for our love. - If you & I show unconditional love in our families will it make a difference? - Will the effort show in our witness to Christ at home? - You see that's where it really counts. - The hardest place to be Christian is in the home. - But that is the most essential place.
Conclusion: - As we continue into these studies on Family Values we realize that none of us are perfect & therefore none of our homes are perfect. - But we must strive to be the best Christians we can be & that must start in our homes. - If we can build strong families in this generation we will be accomplishing something that very few others have been able to do. - And we can do it through the power of Jesus Christ.