Building a Christian Home

By Mike Mazzalongo Topic: Marriage and Family Posted: Fri. Dec 28th 2012
In this lesson we look at the many factors in building a successful Christian family. I'll describe how families are more than just a father, mother and some kids. We'll also examine the types of relationships needed to make a truly wonderful and Christian home possible.

The focus of this session is fervent in the building of the Christian home. Now, we're going to talk about what a Christian home is all about in a minute, but before we do I want to establish the idea that a Christian home is not simply a demographic. Some people have the idea of a Christian home, you know, that's a mom, dad, married only to each other for life, along with their bio kids, living in a single family home and we think, well that's the Christian home. And, I mean, that's a marvelous ideal. This type of situation is terrific but it doesn't define the Christian home.

You know, if there was no sin in the world, if there were no mistakes, if there was no fallen nature, this ideal situation, mom, who never knew any other man, and dad, who never knew any other woman, committed to one another for life and maintained that commitment for life and they together produced beautiful, healthy children, who themselves would perpetuate exactly that model. I mean, why not? What a wonderful world it would be if we managed to do that, to have that perfection.

But because of our sinful nature and because of the fact that we live in a fallen world, we have homes that are, you know, that are different than that. For example, we have a single mom living with her kids and no dad in the house for whatever reason or we have single dads with kids at home and mom is not there. Or perhaps a single person who has partial custody of his or her children, in other words, just every other weekend, there's that situation.

Or how about a blended family that has adults who have remarried with children from previous marriages plus children that that couple have produced together. You know, his kids, her kids, our kids, all living in the same family. What about about that home? Or how about grandparents raising children? No parents around, the grandparents are doing that. Or single moms and dads living with grandparents, raising children from one or more previous relationships or marriages. What about that combo? I could keep going here, there are any number of combinations.

You know, remarried people that have a grandparent living with them along with children from different families as well as a niece, whose been kicked out of her own house for drugs and is staying with them until things cool down. What about that family? I've seen that house. I've visited that house.

So I ask you, have I described your exact situation? For the number of people that are here, maybe not. So do we think that all of these combinations are not acceptable to God as Christian homes or Christian families? It seems to me that if you surveyed the Bible, you'd find all sorts of families that don't exactly fit the original mom, dad, and bio kids mold.

For example, Abraham had children by two women and they all lived in the same house for a time. And Jacob was tricked into taking the wrong woman as wife and lived with two wives and two concubines who bore him 12 sons and a daughter.

Not exactly mom, dad, and the kids there. Boaz married a young widow and they lived with her ex-mother-in-law. David married the woman he committed adultery with. Mary the mother of Jesus was a widowed mother of seven who ended up living with one of her son's apostles. What about that household? Mary and her sister Martha and their brother Lazarus shared a home and I don't know, maybe I'm mistaken, but I'd never heard of any spouse there. Just the three of them, no kids.

Three singles or three unmarrieds. We don't know. Timothy lived with his believing mother and grandmother along with his disbelieving Greek father. Lydia was the female head of her household. So it seems to me, I think you're getting the point here, it seems to me that the norm in the Bible was not exactly the ideal either.

As far as homes and families were considered, a lot of, you know. So going back to our theme, you know, what are the features one is looking for in building a Christian home if they're not simply based on the ideal, nuclear family comprised of mom, dad, and the kids? I'm persuaded that we could come up with many, but the following ones, I believe are foundational for the Christian home.

Without these three, what you have may still be called a family or a home, but you can't call it a Christian home. So what are some of the features of this Christian home that we're trying to build? Well, first of all, in the Christian home, Christ is honored above all else.

Christ is honored above all else. In other words, whatever combination or status of the household, it is understood that Christ is the head of the home no matter who lives there. Grandma and two grandkids, you know, brother, sister, sister, whatever the home is, Christ is the head of that home.

This means that whoever has either seniority or authority or responsibility for the home has made Christ the head of that home. Now, in traditional families, the Bible says that Christ is the head of man and man is the head of woman, first Corinthians 11, verse three.

So it's important that the man acknowledge both his submission to Christ and his responsibility for the moral and spiritual leadership of the home. You know, if we want to Christ to be the head of our home, we have to acknowledge the roles that he has given to both the men and the women and the children.

You know, in a home where Christ is head, you don't have to tell me the name of the people who live there, you don't have to have a similar race, it could be a mixed race, you know, so on and so forth, but the one thing that is common to all Christian homes is that Christ is recognized as the head.

And in a home where Christ is head, no one is disrespected and all members are blessed by the servant leadership of the husband or the father, if that's the case. Now, in non-traditional homes, like the one that Timothy grew up in, Christ was still the head of those who believe for the benefit of all people in the family.

Even the unbelievers. Paul says second Timothy one five, for I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother, Lois, and your mother, Eunice, and am sure is in you, as well.

Paul saw into that home and recognized that for those who were believers in that home, Christ was their head, irregardless of the makeup. Another passage, Paul says for the unbelieving husband is sanctified through his wife and the unbelieving wife is sanctified through her believing husband, for otherwise your children are unclean, but now they are holy.

In a home with non-believers, the faithful can honor Christ as an ongoing witness of their faith. It doesn't mean that the unbelievers are necessarily saved. What Paul is saying here is that the unbelievers in a mixed believing household have access to the gospel, have a witness of the gospel, have a witness for Christ day in and day out.

They're sanctified in this way, they're blessed in this way. But regardless of the makeup, how can you tell that this is a home where Christ is honored above all else? Well, among other things, Christ's word is read and shared and a conscious effort is made to obey it in the home.

If, let's just use the, you know, normal family, you know, mom, dad, and kids, if children never see their parents with an open Bible, reading, meditating, thinking. If they never see it at home, what do you think the odds are that they will begin to be Bible readers? Pretty slim, I think.

If they never hear a discussion between mom and dad about a Bible issue or thing or passage, if they never hear mom say, you know, in my reading, I, saying to dad, in my reading I, you know, I discovered this, I read such and such and I'd never saw that before and she's, you know, going back and forth, just in a normal discussion, just like people discuss what happened on the news or whatever, they're discussing what's going on in the scripture.

If children never hear that in their home, do you think that they're going to pick up that this is, like, a normal thing that ought to be happening in a home? You know, my daughter was telling me that when the kids, you know, Christian is, he's a little older, misbehaves or does something, she assigns him lines to write.

Guess which book she chooses to get him to write lines? And then the kicker, here's the real punishment for the six year old, he has to memorize that line before time out is over. Do you think that little boy is going to grow up thinking there's something to this book here? Do you think that little boy is going to grow up with God's word inside of him? All those memory verses he had to learn as a little boy.

Or a little girl. You know, I can remember when our four kids lived at home, some black moments I'd like to forget, but anyways, there were a lot debates. You can imagine having four teenagers at once.

So there were a lot of discussion about, you know, what's proper, what's the proper attitude that we should have or the dress. You know, you hear the words coming out of a parent's mouth, you think you're going out dressed like that? Or language or the friends that they would choose or the entertainment that they would consume or church attendance, there were a lot of discussions about that.

And many of these discussions and disagreements were resolved with the idea that such and such was not acceptable because this was a Christian home. We don't do that here, we don't use that language, and so on and so forth.

And that even fell on me. If I lost my temper and, you know, said something that I shouldn't have said, you want to know how quick that all came back to me? Mommy, mommy, daddy said a bad word. You know you're succeeding at establishing a Christian home when your own kids begin judging the appropriateness of their friend's language and their friend's behavior based on what is proper in their own house.

When they say things like, when they say to their friends, man, that wouldn't fly at my house. We couldn't get away with that at my house. Sometimes they say it, you know, complaining to their friends.

Well, you know, go ahead, ask your mom and dad if you can go out and stay out until three am and we'll drive to Dallas and watch a concert and then we'll all drive home, four girls in a car, you know, go ahead.

That's not going to fly at my house. You may think that it's a great burden on them, but I'm telling you that part of that is their witness to their friends. That wouldn't fly at my house is a way for them to say 'cause my house is a Christian home.

In a home that honors Christ above all, the lines of conduct and attitude are always well defined according to Christ's teaching. I've told you this before, but when I'd have debates with Paul, our oldest, about stuff and then I'd start, you know, I'd quote a scripture and he'd go oh, dad, that's not fair.

You're using the Bible, you know, it's, like, out of bounds, you know. Even unbelieving dads or moms, you know, whichever it is, they have no problem with conduct that follows the teachings of Jesus regarding obedience and respect, sexual purity, devotion.

What non-believing parent could be against their children being obedient or sexually pure or respectful? Who can disagree with that? So building a Christian home requires first and foremost an effort to make the teachings of Jesus the lines that guide our relationships, our conduct, and our attitude.

People in the family know this, as well as people who visit the family. They see a difference even when they can't quite put their finger on why. My mother-in-law, Lise's mom, passed away many years ago, but I remember she used to say to Lise, she was Catholic, she would say to Lise, I don't know what it is, and of course, you know that I love, there were five kids in her family, I love all of our children and I love our grandchildren, all of them, but she says, there's just something different about your family.

There's just something different about them and you know, Lise and I would look at each other and wonder how can she not see what the difference is? In a Christian home, another point I would say, if we're building one, strangers are welcome.

You know, it's interesting to note that in the Bible the word used for hospitality is the Greek word philoxenia, which, translated, simply means the love of strangers. Now this virtue is important in the first century church because apostles and evangelists, prophets, teachers, you know, they traveled from place to place to preach and to teach and they were hosted by church members offering hospitality and there were no, you know, Ramada Inns and there were inns in those days, but not like today.

You know, Paul lists this as a key qualification for elders in first Timothy chapter three, verse two and Titus chapter one, verse eight. Imagine an elder, a leader, a shepherd in the church has to be apt to teach, yeah, and an elder in the church has to not be someone who's violent or argumentative.

Well, yeah, if he's a shepherd, you know. He has to be the husband of one wife and there are a whole list of qualifications and we say of course, of course, of course, and then twice Paul mentions that that person needs to practice hospitality.

His reputation is that he and his wife are those who practice that virtue. That's how important Paul considered this particular practice. In describing the kind of love that Christians should have for one another, Peter, the apostle, encouraged his church member, he says practice hospitality without complaint, first Peter four nine.

Again, Paul lists it as a demonstrable activity in ministry that a widow must have practiced before receiving benevolence from the church. Is she a widow, well of course, does she need help, well, he says, first of all, her own family needs to be the ones to step up and help her, but if she has no family, then he lists certain things she should be, you know, the wife of one husband.

It's kind of the reverse of the elders, the wife of one husband and he says and she should have been known to have practiced hospitality towards the saints. Imagine that, that's how important this virtue was and it is cited as a proof of love and a proof of sincere faith in both Romans chapter 12, verse 13 as well as Hebrews chapter 13, 12.

You see, hospitality and fellowship, excuse me, hospitality and the fellowship that it produces is important not only as a proof of love and faithfulness but also because it helps members know each other and it integrates people into the body of Christ.

You know, the danger, however, is that we allow church programs and events to replace basic hospitality that we should be offering from our own homes. You know, in my ministry career, what I've seen is that we sub-contract the responsibility for our own practice of hospitality to professional ministers who organize events for us.

But the Bible clearly demonstrates that the love of strangers is a mark of sincere faith and love. I'm not saying we do away with activity, there's some activities we just couldn't do in someone's home.

You know, the all church potluck. I couldn't get 260 people into my house. You know? And I don't think anybody here could, even though we have some members who are fairly well off, I don't think anybody can do that.

So there's a place for that but it isn't a substitute for our own responsibility to offer hospitality. To be open to welcoming strangers to our churches and then going the second mile by opening our homes to those, to hosting our brethren, even those we know less well reflects a genuine attitude of Christian love.

You know, Johnny Henderson's sitting over there saying man, he's preaching my lesson. Because he's going to be dealing with the subject of just hospitality in a month from now. So you'll have time to have forgotten everything I've said and I'll give Johnny my notes but he's going to, he's going to go into the subject more deeply when the time comes.

You know, if we don't practice and teach and include our children in this, I keep going back to the, you know, I watch our daughter Emily, for example, how she offers hospitality but how she does it in such an effortless way.

She has people over, it's easy, you know, the little girls or little babies running around, she's waiting for another baby, you know, but I see her and how a good team, just offering hospitality to people.

Where do you think she learned that? Well she learned it from her mother. You know, that's how children learn these graces, if you wish. Are you smiling because she didn't learn it from her father? Finally, in the Christian home and, you know, there's so much stuff, we could've made a list of 10 or 15, I just tried to pick the, you know, ones that were a little more encompassing than others.

There are expectations. There are expectations. As I said, I could list so many features necessary to build a Christian home but suffice to say that there are certain expectations of those who live in the home as well as those who see the home from outside.

In other words, if you live in a Christian home, there's certain expectations that you have of it and if you're a person on the outside looking in, you have expectations for that Christian home. And so a well established Christian home fulfills these expectations for those not only in the home but those who observe it from the outside.

So let me kind of explain this idea. For example, the expectation for men is that they love their wives as Christ loved the church. That's the expectation. A woman marries a Christian man, she marries him because she loves him and she, you know, she appreciates his character and so on and so forth but also because he's a Christian.

She's been raised in such a way to look for a Christian mate and so she finds one, a Christian mate that she loves, and they marry. What do you think her expectation is of this Christian man? She expects that he will love her the way that Christ loves the church.

That's her expectation. That's why she looked for someone who was a Christian. Wives and children in a Christian home, they expect this from their fathers. Women, the expectation is that they respect their husbands and practice being in submission.

You know why practice being in submission? Because it's very difficult to be in submission to a sinful human being. It's easy, well I won't say easy, you can figure it out, you know, you can tell yourself that it's the right and easy thing to do, to be in submission to God.

I mean, God is perfect, God is all wise, God is all knowledgeable, He's all merciful, and so on and so forth, so being in submission to Him, yeah, I can do that and I can talk myself into it because it's a good thing to do, but being in submission to my husband with all his faults, man, I have more education than him.

Being in submission to that guy, that takes practice. That's why I say practice being in submission. I read an article recently, not in a religious periodical, in the newspaper, saying the one thing, talking about the, you know, the millennial generation, the one thing that these men are looking for is that their wives respect them.

Isn't that interesting, out in the world, aside from any reference to religion, men desperately need for their wives to show them respect. I think the Holy Spirit had a handle on that a long time ago with His advice.

So in a Christian home, husbands who are looking for wives who are Christians, they've been raised and their daddies have told them, now when you, you know, get to that point, you make sure that that woman, that girl loves the Lord, that she's a faithful Christian and you'll see, son, if you do that, you'll see that you'll, you know, you'll have a great marriage.

Well, he's going into that marriage how? He's hoping that his wife will respect him despite his imperfections. What about children? Well the expectation is that they obey their parents. It isn't a surprise.

Parents who raise children in a Christian home expect their children to behave and to behave well. It shouldn't be a surprise, it shouldn't be, wow, your kids are really obedient, you know, how did that miracle happen? Well no, no, no the expectation is that they obey.

Parents expect your children to be obedient. We begin with that. Now, let's take a look at people, those are the people inside the house, how about on the outside of the house. What about extended family, families looking into your Christian home, what do they expect, they expect you to be doing what you're preaching to them about.

If you're a Christian and if they say, well on Sunday we're all going for a picnic, we'll go at 9:00 a.m., are you guys coming, and you're saying, sorry, but if you do it Sunday afternoon, maybe we could go, 'cause we go to church on Sundays.

Well, can't ya skip? Well, no it's a commitment we have and we prefer being there, how about you guys just go to the picnic and after services, we'll meet you over at the park. You haven't preached to them a sermon, but you've sure told them where you're coming from.

Those people in your family, what do they expect. Well, they expect results. They expect fruit. They expect to see something to prove that there is something special about a Christian home. Yeah, you didn't go to the picnic with us and you won't let our kids, you know, your kids go to certain movies, yeah, okay.

But do we see a greater love in your home, do we see hospitality in your home, do we see the fruit of what you're talking about? 'Cause we sure expect it. And what about the brethren? Church members expect your home to live up to your faith.

Same thing as extended family, basically. They expect to observe no difference in your conduct at home from your conduct at church. In other words, you're not kind of putting on a front at church. Who you are at church is who you are.

Whether I bump into you at the Safeway or whatever, you know, the grocery store, or maybe you're sitting behind me at the hockey game or the football game or whatever, you're that guy, you're that woman that I, you know, sit at church with.

They expect to observe no difference in your conduct at home from your conduct at church. How about unbelievers, those who have not believed in Christ, they expect what is true about you at work is true about you at home.

Unfortunately, they expect a hypocrite, that's the unfortunate part, people on the outside of the church are always saying one of these days I'm going to catch you and we're going to see that Christian stuff, that's just hypocrisy.

They're expecting a surprise. Prove me different, they say. And then perhaps one more person who's expecting things and that's Jesus. He expects you to be fervent in faith no matter what the makeup of your family is or what kind of house you live in.

Your value to Him is not based on how fancy your house is. He expects all the believers in your home to build their home on the rock of faith, which is His word. That's what He expects. You know, this reminds me of a story, a true story, about a terrible flood that happened in Quebec many years ago, 1996, actually.

The Saguenay River flooded because of heavy rains and rushed headlong towards the city of Chicoutimi. Chicoutimi is an Indian word, Canadian Native American, if you wish, Canadian Indian, we call them First Nations in Canada.

Here you call them Native American and in Canada it's called First Nation. In the First Nation language, Chicoutimi meant place of deep water and it was interesting because the Saguenay River, if you looked at it at a map like this, it goes like this and it u's like a U and the city of Chicoutimi is right down there, right before the U.

And so in 1996 there was tremendous rainfall, you know, that occurred and the Saguenay River began to flood. Well it was flooding this way but the water was rushing down. 6,000 people had to be evacuated and many homes were destroyed, mudslides, it was a mess.

In Quebec, very rare that you have flooding. So this was quite an event. Everything in the flood's path except one little white house, whose builders, many years before, had built it on the rock formations that are in the area and to be sure that would be strong, they also built it on a cement base.

So they had a rock formation and on that they built the cement base, which was the basement, and then they built the house. Because they said if the name that the Indians gave this town is true, and they were here hundreds of years before us, might it mean that perhaps the place of deep water was a place that could easily be flooded.

And they hadn't had a flood in decades, nobody thought about it, the city just grew. And so, everything was destroyed, every structure in the vicinity was carried away except this, except this little white house, which researchers claim withstood the same driving water pressure as the pressure of the water that goes over Niagara Falls.

That's a lot of pressure. I should've put in a picture of Niagara Falls to give you an idea, huh, and it stands there to this day. This little house is now a museum and as a museum it's a symbol of strength and hope for the people of that city.

'Cause everything was destroyed except that little white house and so they had to rebuild everything around it, but that little white house, you know, it gave them courage and it gave them hope. And so you know where I'm going with this, of course, in Matthew seven, verse 24, Jesus says, therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and acts on them may be compared to a wise man who builds his house on the rock and the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house and yet it did not fall for it had been founded, where? Yeah, on the rock.

And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house and it fell and great was its fall, but what happens to the one who builds his house on the rock? It remains steadfast.

And so those who are fervent in building a Christian home based on, founded on the rock, which is the word of Christ, open and loving towards others, fulfilling the expectations according to the Lord's will and way, you people, you people will not have to fear the floods of life or the terrible heat of judgment on this world when Jesus returns.

Your home will be safely built, your home will also be a safe place for you and your family, despite the storms of life because it has been built on the rock which is Christ. Well I hope that you've had some good ideas, things that you might incorporate in your own home.

Never too late, of course, to put these things into practice in your own home. The word of God is a living word and it can give life to many things.