The Christian family in America, (and I suspect abroad), has major issues! I do not say this in a judgmental way, but rather to point out something that I have observed.
When I started preaching, I knew there were families out there who had been touched by things like divorce, death, chronic illness, lost children, etc. But I assumed those families were relatively rare and that most people in the audience were “normal.”
The more I’ve traveled and have gotten to know people, the more I realize there is no such thing as “normal.” The Norman Rockwell family featured in pictures does not exist. After almost twenty years of preaching I’ve discovered basically every single family has issues.
Maybe it is a spouse who is not a Christian.
Maybe it is a spouse who is verbally abusive.
Maybe it is a spouse who is a workaholic.
Maybe it is a spouse who no longer loves you.
Maybe it is a spouse who is addicted to pornography.
Maybe it is a child who is rebellious.
Maybe it is a child who got pregnant out of wed-lock.
Maybe it is a child who is chronically sick.
Maybe it is a child who suffers a mental illness.
Maybe it is an older child who has never obeyed the Gospel.
Maybe it is a sibling that is unable to take care of himself/herself.
Maybe it is a sibling who is causing your parents mental anguish.
Maybe it is a sibling who is addicted to drugs or alcohol.
Maybe it is a sibling who died at a relatively young age.
Maybe it is a parent who has been diagnosed with cancer.
Maybe it is a parent who committed adultery.
Maybe it is a parent who suffers from dementia.
Maybe it is a parent who is unable to pay their bills.
And the list could go on and on and on. These are not theoretical “issues” that a few people have. These are very real scenarios that individuals sitting in the pews around you are suffering. And many of these issues affect the physical and emotional well-being of those around us.
Here’s the problem as I see it: Satan has convinced us that we must have perfect families—families without blemishes. Social media like Facebook and Instagram have fed this lie, encouraging Christians to only display pictures of a beautiful happy family. As a result, we never share what is really going on at home and in many cases, we are left to suffer all alone through our issues.
I don’t believe this is what God wants and I don’t believe this is how the church in Acts 2 behaved. I believe in times past church families were closer. People spent more time with one another in their homes. I suspect being in one another’s homes and having all things in common allowed these individuals to have real conversations about what was really going on at home. This was a church family that saw one another more than just an hour or two per week. I believe there was great comfort in knowing you were not the only one struggling. Did they have issues back then? Absolutely. But their stress and emotional health were much better because they had Christian family to talk to and lean on.
Today, pride causes us to hide behind the façade that everything is “fine.” We are too busy to have brothers and sisters over for a meal. We settle for fast-food Christianity and believe that 1-2 hours on a Sunday is enough. And Christians all around us suffer silently, thinking they are the only ones who have issues.
How refreshing would it be if we were closer to one another and could be real with each other? How liberating would it be to know you do not have to have the perfect family? How thankful would you be to know that others are going through similar trials? How amazing would it be to have an entire church family that truly rejoices and weeps together?!
I believe it could happen. I think it needs to happen. Deep down I think people want it to happen. But there is one final “issue” that would need to be exposed before this problem can be fixed—and that “issue” is for Christians to have the courage to admit they have issues and are not perfect. We have to feel comfortable getting our hands dirty with our church family, as we all share in the reality that we have issues. We have to have the strength to admit we are not perfect, and therefore we need Jesus Christ!
Can you picture it? Can you imagine walking in to an auditorium full of people with issues who openly acknowledge they have problems and need Jesus? What a beautiful sight that would be…