5. A Center for Truth
In the province of Quebec, Canada where Lise and I come from, the government has recently implemented a religion and ethics course in elementary and high school that promotes the idea that every religion is basically the same. Even private schools must teach this program. Of course, if a child is taught that every religion is the same, then no one religion is better than the other. When it comes to religion, the government has imposed the doctrine of Universalism or Pluralism (i.e. all roads lead to heaven) on all of the schools.
This teaching flies in the face of Christianity's main doctrine that says, "There is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity, the man Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 2:5). There was a time when schools and the community at large could be counted on to support and confirm the moral values and broad teachings of the Christian home, but this is not true anymore. The responsibility for teaching about God, Christian morality and salvation in Christ has always been the responsibility of the home with the help of the church (II Timothy 3:15). Today, however, we are in danger of losing the present generation because they receive little to no support for their faith in society. The home, therefore, has to be the place where ideas are tested in the light of God's word, and it needs to become the center for truth where godless philosophies and false religions can be exposed, talked about and debated. It must especially be the place where one can see the truth being spoken and acted out by parents, children and the extended family.
Home and family should be synonymous with prayer-time, Bible reading, honorable behavior, church attendance, reconciliation, renewal and spiritual living. When someone goes home, they need to know that the people there will speak the truth in love to them at all times about all things.
6. A Museum of Memories
The Christian home serves as a museum that exhibits the shared memories of the family that lives there. Before, I spoke of the pictures that were on the wall, each capturing a special moment in our children's lives. A home is a museum in the sense that it houses treasured memories in pictures, souvenirs, artwork, trophies and awards, each containing the essence of a special time or place.
One of the favorite pastimes for our children when they are all together is to go through our old photo albums. They have seen these many times, but our home is the place where the albums are kept and it is a special ritual to bundle up on the couch and go over the family photos together in order to reminisce over their childhood and teen years while they still lived at home. This is one of the disadvantages of digital photography where you store everything on a computer. Looking at digital images on your camera does not have the same feel or emotion as pouring over old photos in a well worn photo album.
The point I want to make about the home as a museum of memories is that just like a regular museum, the home as a museum needs a curator. Those pictures are there because someone remembered to bring the camera to record special events and fun moments. In our family it was Lise who painstakingly categorized the pictures and created the albums the children love so much.
Special memories have to be preserved and this requires forethought and some work, but the rewards are quite wonderful. I would add that special memories and traditions can and should be created. For example, family dinners and reunions at special times done when children were at home should be reestablished in their own homes when they begin their families. Many families have all kinds of wonderful experiences and activities, but unless they are documented or memorialized somehow, they fade from view and their joy is not passed on to future generations.
The home as a museum for memories allows the family to have a sense of continuity and history about itself. In our house almost every piece of art, decoration and knick-knack has meaning and memory of some kind, it is not there simply as a decoration. In this way our home embodies the history and spirit of our family wherever we live.
7. A Shelter from the Storm
When I read the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15, I am always struck by the attitude of the father in this story. The younger son does go away with his share of the inheritance. He does waste it on immoral living. He does bring shame on himself and his family, and when he returns he does so with nothing left except an apology. But what does the father do? Accept him back with conditions? Review all of his mistakes? Tell him, "I told you so"? No, he hugs the boy and brings him back home. Oh, I am sure the son had bad memories and there were some consequences because of his bad choices, but on that night what was needed was the safety, assurance and acceptance of home.
Above all else, home needs to be a sure refuge, a place where you can go to find comfort, forgiveness and encouragement from the raging storms of failure, rejection and other trials of life. The Prodigal Son did not think of going to his uncle's house when he came to his senses, he wanted to go home.
Our home should be a preview of what heaven is like because the Bible refers to it as our ultimate home (II Corinthians 5:8). In it we can retreat to a place where Jesus is the Lord and those who enter there are received as He has received us: with mercy, kindness, love and acceptance. They say you can never go home again, but for the sacred family, home is where you are always welcome.
Edith Shaeffer (wife of Christian philosopher, Francis Shaeffer) said in her book, What is a Family?, which is the basis for this chapter, "Family is a mobile blown by the gentle breeze of the Holy Spirit." And in the mobile that God directs and animates are the various and beautiful pieces that we described as:
- A balanced environment.
- A sense of home.
- A place for creativity.
- A training ground for relationships.
- A center for truth.
- A museum of memories.
- A shelter from the storm.
I pray that your sacred families can be all of these things and more as Christ dwells in your hearts and in your homes.
Schaeffer, E. (1975) What is a Family? Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company.