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Needs of the 21st Century Home

by

Alex McPherson

What can a child born into the average 21st century Australian home expect? In many cases he may expect to be raised at least at some point by a single parent due to an increase in divorce and immorality. It is possible that he will spend much time in a child care centre in his early life. He may experiment with sex, drugs or alcohol at a young age.

Much of his thinking may be warped by pornography and perversion constantly promoted by the media. With the modern "values" of humanism and the new morality, he may be left confused and uncertain about his purpose in life and perhaps may contemplate suicide.

It is altogether probable that he will be taught in school that homosexuality is normal human behaviour, that marriage is not important, and that he was descended from monkeys, a mere animal. He may expect to be thoroughly educated on "safe" sexual practices and environmental issues but should not anticipate hearing much concerning God and religious principles. He may well study literature, psychology, and philosophy but never hear the Bible read or referred to by his teachers, parents, or friends. These are just a few of the problems facing the home in the 21st century.

Fortunately, we have only considered the negative prospects for the child born into the 21st century home. There is a much brighter outlook - the child may be born into a Christian family. An ungodly society is not a new phenomenon. We live "in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation" (Phil. 2:15), just as in the first century. In dark times it will be Christian families that shine like beacons. Australia is loosely considered a Christian country and most would see themselves as belonging to Christian homes, but what are the elements that are needed in order for ours to be a genuinely Christian home?

CHRIST MUST BE ITS LORD.

A home may have proper discipline, a certain morality, love, and its members may even be Christians yet still not have Christ as its Lord. Yes, sadly, even members of the Lord's Church have set up idols, lords, and gods that will come before Christ and His Church.

1. Money.

In such a materialistic society, many spend more time than necessary trying to provide things for their demanding families. A lot of families possess abundant wealth but do not live abundantly. Only Christ gives life, an abundant, rich, full life (John 10:10; I Pet. 3:10-12). We cannot profess to be a Christian and put the desire for wealth before the Lord, even if it is to gain things for our families. "No man can serve two masters" (Matt. 6:24). "Ye cannot serve God and mammon" (Luke 16:13).

2. Sensual lusts.

To live for self holds no great reward and certainly no eternal one. We must deny self to follow Christ (Matt. 16:24). Alexander the Great had the world at his feet. He controlled much but not himself. He killed his friend, Cleitus, in a drunken rage. How tragic to seek to gain the things of this world at the expense of your own soul or the souls of your children (Mark 8:34-37). Christ must be in control of our lives otherwise we will be servants to sin (Rom. 6:16-17). "I Want it All and I Want it Now" is the approach that some take. This was the title of a song by a band called "Queen". The lead singer died of AIDS because of the pursuit of worldly lusts. Parents must teach their children the principles that Moses' parents no doubt instilled in him (Heb. 11:25-27). No family will have a Christian home if they put themselves and their ungodly addictions above the Lord for they will become "lovers of pleasure more than lovers of God" (II Tim. 3:4). Let us deny "ungodliness and worldly lusts" and "live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world" (Titus 2:12).

3. Recreation.

This is an age of recreation, hobbies, sports, and interests like no other. Christians, perhaps often without realizing it, have made recreation their lord. Guy N. Woods, writing on the subject of "The Christian and Recreation" makes some pertinent comments:
...professing Christians who do not hesitate to forsake the assembly of the church to lie in the sun on public beaches, to fish in the lakes of the land, and to play golf on the fairways. Some of these seek to satisfy the conscience by a quick stop on the way to the beach for worship or by carrying the 'emblems of the supper' with them.

Other Christians are too tired to come to worship and will tell you so. Could we even think of giving such a lazy and inappropriate excuse to our employers? Yet Christ is supposed to be first in our lives. We must seek first His kingdom (Matt. 6:33) and not forsake the assembling of ourselves together (Heb. 10:25).

4. Family.

Though our discussion is on the home, the home and family cannot come before Christ. Those who will love father or mother more than Christ are not worthy of Him (Matt. 10:37). Parents who will place money, sensual lusts, recreation, or family before Christ cannot expect to raise faithful children. Christ must be the Lord in our home in the 21st century. Don Campbell, whose article entitled "What is a Christian Home?" has been most helpful in preparing this lesson, says:

If Christ is Lord in a family, he will be the Lord of the recreation time as well as the assembly time. He will be Lord of the made money as well as the contribution. In short, he will be Lord of all. Lord of our money, our time, our talent, and that 24 hours a day, 365 days a year...Christ and his will are considered when vocations, vacations, budgets, houses, dress, and recreation are planned.

HEAVEN MUST BE ITS GOAL

It is always important to have goals if much is to be achieved in any area of life. Most parents have goals for their children. Perhaps they want their children to take over the family business, to be a great athlete, or of outstanding education. Most desire their children to become well liked, well mannered, well balanced, happy adults. These may be fine goals but the Christian family's parents will always place one goal above all others and that is that every family member be prepared for their heavenly home. Nothing else matters more than this. Children will understand what the parents' goal for them is by the time and effort they give to that end. Parents who attend all the assemblies of the Church, read the Word, pray, and engage in family devotionals will be setting the right example. They will cause their children to comprehend by their teaching and practice that spiritual matters are far more important than good marks at school or an ability to play cricket. If the parents choose or allow the child to choose another activity above the services of the Church, which will the child think is more important? Heaven holds all to the truly Christian family. Sellers Crain remarks:
Preparation for Heaven begins in the home. Children need to be taught how to live-how to make a living-but they also need to be taught how to die. Home is where preparations for heaven begins. Will your children be denied entrance to heaven because you failed to prepare them?

"Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth" (Col. 3:2). "For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:20).

THE BIBLE MUST BE ITS GUIDE

Just as goals are important so it is that standards and rules are needed in all facets of life - government, business, sport, Church, and family. The worldly family and some Christians may take their standards for conduct, dress, and opinions from the world, traditions, their friends, television, fashion magazines, and celebrities. The standard for the truly Christian family, however, is the Word of God. The last century has seen amazing progressions in health, wealth, science, education, medicine, transportation, and industry but it has also seen an equally amazing decline in moral standards and knowledge of God's Word. Wayne Jackson noted in 1979:
It is absolutely safe to say that the average person of our day knows far less about the Bible than the common man of a half century past.

We must not lower our standards to meet those of the world's or even to be satisfied with marginally higher standards than the world's. Michel de Montaigne, the French essayist wrote:
It is good to be born in a depraved time, for by comparison with others, you are considered virtuous for a cheap price.

Michael C. Armour, in the Christian Family magazine comments on this statement:
Cheap virtue! What an outlandish idea! And yet, there is more than a grain of truth in what Montaigne has said. In a world of moral mediocrity, even the marginally righteous man stands head and shoulders above the crowd. Alongside others, he seems exceptional, even exemplary. But what praise does a man deserve for marginal righteousness? The warthog may be better mannered than the jackal, but that hardly qualifies him as a model of civility...as parents and adults within the church we must live extraordinary lives before our children. If our own morality is only slightly above the world's, our children will seldom aspire much higher.

The Bible is our all sufficient guide (II Tim. 3:16-17; II Pet. 1:3). It is the best handbook on raising children, the greatest textbook for a happy marriage, and the finest manual on successful family living. It is not socially acceptable to discipline children, or politically correct to teach against homosexuality and abortion, nor is it fashionable to oppose living together before marriage, but the Bible says we must - we have a standard. God has always required parents to instruct their children in the ways of the Lord (Deut. 6:6-9; Eph. 6:1-4; II Tim. 1:5; 3:14). Jim Dobbs, writing in The Spiritual Sword, speaks about the Jewish devotion to teaching their children the Word of God:
All the clues furnished us in the Scripture and in history indicate that the Jewish home was a place where the word of God was openly discussed, memorized and often cited in the course of everyday affairs. It was the ambiance in which Jewish children grew up. And when they became grown, their minds were full of the law and the prophets. It is true, of course, that sometimes the nation departed from God, and suffered the consequences. It is true, especially in the time of Christ, that their traditions often blinded the Jews to the law of God. But it is also true that when Jesus was engaged in His teaching ministry He could cite the Old Testament to His hearers knowing that it was material quite familiar to them. And the apostles could point to the fulfillment in Christ of Old Testament prophecies knowing that their Jewish hearers would understand what they were talking about. God had devised a method that worked. Christians are certainly no less obligated than were the ancient Jews to teach the word of God to their children.

This means that the parents must know the Bible themselves before they can teach their children. Parents will be able to answer the child's questions by talking about what the Bible says. The child will soon understand that the Bible is the authority and answer to the questions and problems of life. Children should be taught the plan of salvation, the one true Church, "the whole counsel of God" (Acts 20:27). God's Word is the standard for the family's morals. It matters not that everybody else wears immodest clothing at the beach, or that everybody is going to the school dance, the Christian family will not be engaged in these things. God has given us the standard, the authority, the Bible is our guide (Psalm 119:9,11,105). "Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory" (Psalm 73:24).

LOVE MUST BE ITS BOND

It is only natural that family members love each other, this is what the Bible calls "natural affection" (Rom. 1:31; II Tim. 3:3). Love is "the bond of perfectness" (Col. 3:14). Without love the Christian family is nothing (I Cor. 13:1-3), in fact they will not be Christian at all (John 13:34-35; I John 4:20-21). Is it possible that we may have Christ as Lord of our family, Heaven as the goal for our family, the Bible as the guide for our family, and not have love? Not really, because love sums up and binds the previous three points together. When we realize that Christ loved us enough to die for us we will love Him enough to take Him on as Lord (II Cor. 5:14-15). When we truly love our brethren we will do our best to help them to go to heaven. In our love for Christ we will understand that we must keep His commandments as found in the Bible (John 14:15).

In today's world things are often turned around and good is called evil and evil is called good just as it was in Isaiah's day (Isa. 5:20). John Stacy states:
What God called sin, we call sickness. What God called drunkenness, we call alcoholism. What God called perversion, we call an alternate lifestyle. What God called immorality, we call the new morality. What God called pornography, we call adult entertainment. What God called murder, we call abortion.

Humanism tells us that Christ, Heaven, the Bible, and love for God are old and outdated concepts. The world changes, Christ does not (Heb. 13:8), Heaven will never fade away (I Pet. 1:4), the Word of God endures forever (I Pet. 1:25), and love never fails (I Cor. 13:8). The 21st century home needs that which does not change. These eternal principles will stand the test of time.

ENDNOTES:
See: Hillery Motsinger, "What Can a Child Expect?", Christian Family, Minden, Louisiana, Vol. 5, No. 10, March, 1980, p. 2.
Mainpoints from: Don Campbell, "What is a Christian Home?", Christian Family,Vol. 5, No. 1, June, 1979, p. 6-7, 10.
Guy N. Woods, "The Christian and Recreation", Christian Family, ibid., p. 9-10.
Don Campbell, op. cit.
Sellers Crain, "A House is Not a Home", Bulletin Digest, Anselmo, Nebraska, Vol. 6, No. 8, August, 1987, p. 5.
Wayne Jackson, "Ancient Ethics in a Modern World (No. 1)", Christian Family, Vol. 5, No. 6, November, 1979, p. 10-11.
Quoted: Michael C. Armour, "The Challenge of Moral Standards", Christian Family, Vol. 6, No. 10, March, 1981, 24-25.
Ibid.
Jim Dobbs, "Parents Should Teach Their Children By Word", The Spiritual Sword, Memphis, Tennessee, Vol. 15, No. 4, July, 1984, p. 11-12.
John Stacy, "Will It Be Righteousness Or Sin For Our Nation?", Firm Foundation, Austin, Texas, Vol. 102, No. 24, October, 1985, p. 21-22.

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