It doesn’t take much skill or insight to recognize how much America has changed in the past few decades.
If you don’t believe it, just think about the smartphone on which you may be reading this (or the smartphone in your pocket as you’re reading this on your laptop.) Ten years ago, the device wasn’t even available for consumer use. Now? It’s hard for many of us to even remember a time when smartphones and the instant connectivity and bottomless depth of knowledge – and cat videos and other nonsense – they provide.
But the changes are far deeper than technological. Consider television. While the technical quality of our TV sets have undeniably drastically improved in the last 40 years (no more rabbit ears! HD picture quality!), we have witnessed a more debatable course in the programming.
In television’s first few decades, many programs sought to project a certain image of American life – an ideal, you might say – particularly when depicting the family. But in more recent days, a larger and larger chunk of that programming has veered as far from the ideal as possible, seeking to depict the dysfunction present in many families – and then some.
For many of us, the dysfunction, unfortunately, is readily recognizable, mirrored in many ways in families we know, or perhaps even in our own households.
But, while sad, this is nothing new.
For proof, we need look no further than the Bible.
We know God’s Word is jam-packed with instruction for healthy family living. In Ephesians, for instance, as Pastor Bryan shared, the Apostle Paul offers guidance for wives, husbands, children and parents to find domestic harmony – God’s “ideal,” if you will, wherein wives leverage their domestic power for the good of their husbands and families, husbands lay down their lives for their wives and families and children choose to obey and honor their parents, not because they always deserve it, but to obey and honor God.
But a study of the Bible will also reveal that the pages are not only rife with stories of dysfunctional families, but tales from the lives of some of the Good Book’s central characters that would probably make your dysfunctional family look like it’s plucked from central casting for a classic TV show.
Abraham, Jacob, Joseph, David – their lives and families were filled with adultery, murder, deception, betrayal, even rape, or worse. Yet God in His Word calls them heroes, men after His own heart, whose faith was credited as righteousness and held up as examples for us to emulate.
And why? Because where their reality fell short, God’s grace abounded all the more to move them ever closer to God’s Ideal.
In the same way, God knows our reality will rarely, if ever, match the ideal He desires for us.
But we can know, that just as the heroes of faith whose lives displayed all the failings of fallen and sinful humanity, we, too, can find grace and power from the hand of our Lord, to deploy His Word in our lives and in our families, and dig deep to lay a strong foundation on which to build not only a better present, but a blessed future, in which all who loved the Lord can find healing and love in families, churches and communities that are Better Together.