The upcoming adoption of our son has me thinking more about our family and how it’s going to change forever. We are organizing his room. We are accumulating clothes for him. We are preparing mentally and emotionally as much as we can to receive him into a healthy environment. And we are trying to contain our joy from spilling out all over the place!
Additionally, all the preparation for our son to come home has me thinking about the institution of the family in general. What is it and what is it supposed to look like? Can many of the problems we see in our culture be attributed to the breakdown of the family? How can we help people recover the sanctity of the biblically established family?
There are three things we must consider.
First, we must understand that the ultimate answer for people’s problems is not found in the family—it’s found in Christ. The answer to each person’s guilt and fear and struggles with sin is not a new home. Our hope as a broader society is not solely in the recovery of the nuclear family. No, our hope is solely in Jesus and his gospel. Our hope is in the message of God becoming a man and being tempted and tested (yet not ever yielding) and suffering on behalf of us, so that he might restore glory to His Father, rescue us from our demise as dead sinners, and reconcile us back to the God we’d rebelled against. That’s the gospel, and it’s our only hope.
Second, no matter what your family history, the grace of Jesus is able to heal your hurts and prevent the past from defining your responsibility to your home in the future. All of us have regrets and hurts from our families, and all of us can point to failures within our own homes. As you trust in Jesus, he makes you a new creation. Old things go away, and new things come (2 Cor. 5:17). Let that newness in Christ be the starting point in which he changes you by giving you grace to forgive others as you’ve been forgiven.
Third, one of the permutations of the gospel is that it is restorative. That means that it has a renewing effect on every area of our lives, and one of those areas is our commitment to Christ in the home. It doesn’t matter what type of home you came from, your union with Christ as a believer will have implications on how you exhibit Christ in your home. It also doesn’t matter if you’re single or married or with kids or empty nesters or divorced or widowed—Christ’s grace comes to you in your situation and draws you in to a heavy desire to walk with Him in purity and holiness.
So what does it look like to have a God-designed family? Are there replaceable pieces in the family? Is the structure able to be manipulated, and are the roles of members interchangeable?
In order to help us think through these questions, we will be covering these topics in the coming articles. This one marks the first in a series that will help us walk through these issues.
My hope is five-fold for this series: 1) we will see clearly God’s design for the family and how it glorifies him, 2) we will joyfully submit to what we see in Scripture as the basis for the family, 3) we will receive and stand in the grace that comes from Jesus to cover family hurts, 4) we will commit to glorify God within the family structure that is in our home, and 5) we will pray for our family to grow strong and resolute in the knowledge and grace of God.
Passion week is a high and holy week. As we move through it, we worshipfully ponder the highlights and lowlights leading up to the most glorious weekend event ever. We think about Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem with the crowd seeking a political messiah. We think about Jesus’ loving act of washing the disciples’ feet and the beautiful fulfillment bound up in the Passover and Lord’s Supper. We think about the garden scene when Jesus acquiesced to the Father’s will by receiving the cup of God’s wrath against sin. We think about the betrayal and trial and denial of Jesus. And, of course, we think about the laying down and taking up of Jesus’ life in the crucifixion and resurrection.
But do we think about the life-giving reality that even in Jesus’ death He was still conquering? In fact, in being defeated, he was gaining the victory.
This is why Paul begins 1 Corinthians 15 with a condensed version of the gospel:
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (v. 3-4)
and concludes it with the rhetorical question of victory in Christ:
Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? (v. 54-55)
I’ll tell you where death sting and victory are. Death’s sting has been blunted by the cross and absorbed in the body of Jesus. And its victory has been spoiled by the resurrection. Isaiah’s prophecy has come true, namely that he will swallow up death for all time. (25:8)
But Isaiah’s prophecy did not stop there. It immediately gave implications. What does this victory over death mean? Why does it matter?
And the Lord GOD will wipe tears away from all faces,
And He will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth;
For the LORD has spoken. (25:8)
Only God could script a story that secures the death of the Savior as the way that he saves from death. Only God could twist the plot so as to make the One who was defeated be the One who gains victory. Only God could complete the transaction wherein the reproaches of the sinners fall on the sinless One. Only God could orchestrate an event as excruciating and tear-inducing as the cross to be the way to take away tears.
The conclusion for us seems clear: our sin is gone and our mourning has been turned into joy. We now walk in the victory of Jesus over death, and we reckon ourselves dead to sin and fear. We proclaim with the psalmist that
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me. (Ps. 23:4)
Life sometimes seems like one long trek through the valley. But when walking through the valley, look to the hill on which Jesus died and remember that even in His death, Jesus was at work killing death and all its shadows. Take courage, death’s Defeater was raised again and is walking with you, so you have nothing to fear. Death is dead.