Family.. and the Face of Christ

Family..

Family is a funny thing. When we are young, our family is our parents, and siblings. If we are fortunate, we have extended family to include aunts, uncles, grandparents, and cousins. Possibly your extended family might even include an “aunt “ or “uncle” who are age old friends of the family.

These are things we probably really did not think much about because lets face it.. your a kid and you just love your family no matter who they are or most of the time what they are doing. Your main goals in life are deeply provisioned in the taking care to receive the necessary nutrients of the major food groups… liquids of your favorite variety, and junk food, solely for the purpose of powering your life’s pursuit of hanging out with friends and having way too much fun !

You probably grew up more or less oblivious to much of what was going on in the family politics and set your sights on the next game.. or the next adventure.

In the “Rockwell-ian” family, in that grand ideal, everyone gets together for family meals, particularly on holidays, and special occasions. You got to gather around the table and see the faces of family, and possibly a couple of friends. You would have those conversations that were warm and inviting, and catching people up on the things that were going on in your life… and listen to them do the same thing.

You would listen to the older family members tell the same stories that they told last year and everyone would have a good chuckle about what ever it was. At the end of it all, everyone would retire to the living room with a deep sigh of contentment and share their memories of years past…

People had much the same core values, you would see at least most of your family at church. Where you learned that your church was an extension of your family/friends.

This is unfortunately for most not quite the way things happened. We have today a culture of families that split apart, who move away to other parts of the country, or the world. We have “grown up” and we have lost touch with our family. Sometimes these splits occur not due to any fault of our own, but possibly due to family squabbles that never got settled or resolved, forgiven, or forgotten.

It is a problem in our world culture that there seems to be little time available for spending extra time with family. Due to distance, or time, or whatever the circumstance is. With single parent families, or with parents who work out of necessity of survival, and for long hours and salaries that are incongruent with the costs of a living wage.

Family, is in some respects like marriage. It takes work. It takes understanding, and it is that “get your hands dirty” type of mucking around in our own humanity that is precisely what makes it difficult to deal with.

We are not children any longer. For good or for bad, we have take on the mantle of adulthood and we have responsibilities, and we have taken on a deeper understanding of what it is to have a family, what ever it is that this looks like for you.

Every family, much like every marriage, has cracks in it. The deeper you look into the inner workings of the family, the more you will see two things. You will see more flaws, and issues. You will, however also see, more individual people, once you get past the emotion, get past all the dirt and built up garbage, and pain, and resentments and all the other stuff that has gotten in the way, you will see a person who wants and needs love and because of their own human brokenness, needs family.

The older we get, the more we become aware of the politics of the family. What this one or that one says or does, or thinks. We start not spending time with this one or that one.. because they don’t act right. They don’t say the right things. They argue with us all the time. They are a pain to deal with.

At some point or other…. something happens, and you are forced to stop and consider what is occurring with your family. Weddings, or funerals, graduations, or births… all of these things impact us and we are forced to stop and think, if only for a time.

Let’s take a moment to consider these things in light of our faith lives.

When I was younger and I wanted to go off and do something for someone, or had some grand idea to go off to perform some charitable work, my mother used to say, “ Charity, begins at home…” . This was usually because my room was probably a disaster area, or there were chores that needed to be done around the house that I had not done at some point or other.

The point is, that those little mom-isms usually ring through when applied in the light of our faith. The application of our faith begins at home. Home, ( and family) often called the domestic church, is such that we need to apply our faith not only outside the front door, but inside the front door as well.

We need to love, to give, to share love with our family members. We need to be peace keepers. We need to search for Christ in the most vulnerable, for those who are poor in spirit. We need to reach out to them. We need to exercise the love of Christ in dealing with our own families. Search for Him among the wounded and broken relationships.

We also need to remove the planks from our own eyes. We need to search for those areas that might have wounded others and seek forgiveness and reparations. We need to heal those we have wounded, or allow healing to occur where we have been injured. We need to seek the face of Christ in the hearts of our own family. We need to be prepared for the fact that this type of growth will not be instantaneous, and it will not give you those warm and fuzzy feelings you might get in helping out at your churches food pantry or carnival, or some other charitable work. It will be a long road, but eventually it will provide abundant fruit, as the light of Christ shines from within.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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