Monday, March 7, 2022

As for Me and My House: The Delightful Duty of Family Religion

As for Me and My House

If you are a Christian man, I know something about you. I know you want more.

You want more thrill in your walk with Jesus. You want more life, more wakefulness, more awe and wonder, more heavenly ambition, more consistency, more urgency, more sin lying slain at your feet. You want more of an inbreaking sense of God’s utter immensity, his total majesty, his relentless love for you by name. You want fewer clich├ęs and unrealities, and more of the real thing.

You want to live for more, with more power and purpose. And if you have a family, you want more skill to lead them to Christ. You want to live in a world of worship and mission with them. You want your wife to increasingly blossom as she beholds more of Jesus. You want to hear your kids singing to Jesus. You want to pray real prayers together, and face difficulties as a family, saying as Jehoshaphat did to God: “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12). And you want to see him answer mightily.

In other words, you want true, living, family religion that spills into your neighborhood and your local church. But is it possible? This desire, perhaps now neglected and starved, only visits with whispers of guilt as you look around at what your life is really like: a fight for survival. Maybe you have conceded to a listless and half-living expectation: just get through the day, enjoy a little entertainment in the crevices, sleep, and then repeat.

But just as you want more for yourself and your family, God wants and promises more too.

Family Alive to God

Christian man, you have a delightful duty to provide for your household, both physically and spiritually. Such a privilege was long foretold, given not just in the cultural mandate (Genesis 1:28) but in the great command to God’s covenant people:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4–9)

This vision for the family could not be higher: nothing less than a world submerged with God. God raised the ultimate banner, “Love the Lord with everything,” which is to fly in the wind over everyday life. He meant for all facets, every corner of family life, to be inscribed with reminders of God and his unchanging worth. He meant to be supreme in all things for the joy of all his people and their families.

Parents diligently passed this passion along to the next generation, praying that God would give new birth. The truth that made one wise for salvation was to be repeated, again and again, as a man strikes a blade repeatedly to sharpen it, in hopes that God would fashion children who also love him with their all.

More than simply passing truths along, however, we see how a faithful man creates an atmosphere into which he draws his children. The home stood as a place where discussions of God continue:

  • as you sit down
  • as you walk by the way
  • when you lie down
  • when you rise up

When at home, or when traveling away from home — from the early morning to the laying down at night — conversation was to revolve around God. Israel even decorated themselves and their world with physical reminders of God’s word: “You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes,” and, “You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”

I tremble myself to write this to you in Christ: Not a day should pass when God’s ways, God’s gospel, and God’s return should go uncontemplated and unspoken in our families.

Men with Burning Hearts

The point is that this vision for family religion wasn’t something to check off a list; it was a lifestyle. Not merely a devotional squeezed in the cracks, but a consistent disposition to worship. The God worthy of our all devotion fills the believer’s sphere, especially his household. A vision that matches the secret desire.

If you are a Christian man, you especially bear the responsibility of this — and again, you desire it, heavy as it is.

How do I know? Because the text says so.

You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.

You will be convinced — Christian father, Christian son, Christian brother — to give yourself to cultivating a world full of God, whether or not you have your own family yet. And not because you read an article or good book, but because God has inscribed his great blazing commandment on your heart. No one needs to twist your arm to want to live for Christ to greater and greater stature. “For they shall all know me” (Jeremiah 31:34).

Does Your Spirit Burn?

In the old covenant, getting the commandments on one’s heart entailed memorization, meditation, prayer, obedience. In the new covenant, these means are likewise employed but from a very different starting place:

This is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. (Jeremiah 31:33)

Does your spirit not burn within you? You may feel guilt for past laziness, you may feel convicted about current neglect, you may need to fall to your knees and beg God’s forgiveness for leaving him forgotten in the attic, but one thing is sure if you know Christ: You long to provide spiritual blessing to your home. Perceive the Lord Jesus extending more grace and providing fresh opportunity. No longer resist plunging into this promised sea of blessing: “those who honor me I will honor” (1 Samuel 2:30).

If you are real, brother, his law is already etched on your heart: You want to care for your family. You want to put away trivialities and live for Christ. You want to build your home and fill it with great thoughts and loving deeds. You want Bethlehem’s star resting above your roof, indicating the King’s presence. You want to provide spiritual meat and everlasting drink to those you love most. You want to truthfully and continually say, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

from Desiring God
via DG