We’re entering the time of year when most minds turn to family. For many, the holidays bring positive memories and joy from spending time with loved ones. But that is not the case for everyone. Some come from broken homes. Others have lost loved ones, maybe even during the holidays, and instead of joy they feel renewed loss and hurt. The challenge for us as the church of Christ how do we handle these reactions of hurt, or even deep seated scars, for those we now call family?
I recently asked the members of my small group what three words come to mind when they hear the word “father.” As expected, the responses varied. We do not all have the same feelings or experiences when it comes to our fathers. The reality of our day and age is that, more than likely, at least half of us will not have positive view toward our own father. And it’s not just because of divorce. I live in a neighborhood where the last statistics show that more than 60 percent of the homes are single parent households. Now clearly this becomes an issue for not just how we view our fathers but our mothers as well. But for the church, we use the word “father” a lot.
How does someone whose father was abusive or absent or busy or… react when we sing a song like “Good, Good, Father?” Now, let me be clear, I am not advocating that we not sing certain songs or change the way we pray. Jesus himself gave us the example of praying to God as our Father. I’m simply saying that we should be aware that we use certain terms to describe God and His church that need redemption and restoration in the hearts of those who walk in the doors.
My wife and I both come from pretty good homes. And even still there are things about our family relationships that have shaped how we view God. It is an amazing thing of God’s grace that He has worked in our hearts and lives to redeem and restore those views.
There are some things that clearly only God can fix through the work of His Spirit in our lives. The awesome privilege we have as His church is to be a part of how He does this work in ourselves and in others.
We are called a family. We’re not a perfect one. There are things we struggle with. Sometimes we struggle with each other. But through it all we are called to love one another. We sacrifice for one another. And in doing so we begin to show the world that there is a greater, better, family.
We love and serve a God that we often call father. He works in us to show that He is the greatest example of fatherhood. Even when His children disobey and turn their backs on Him.
So as we enter this crazy, hectic and wondrous time of the year let us not forget that we are lights in the darkness. We have a tremendous calling. And a part of that ministry of reconciliation is helping redeem and restore broken views of the family. We won’t always get it right. But God is the one who is truly at work, His spirit is the one that Jesus tells us convicts of sin and brings truth. All we need to do is listen, keep our eyes open, and love others as best we can.