Reclaiming The Home

Bible Book: Luke  2 : 41-52
Subject: Home; Family; Marriage

From time to time, our country is beset with storms that have deluged the land with record amounts of snow, rainfall, hail, and damaging winds. When storms like this occur, it often takes some time before the actual damage can be assessed and efforts at rebuilding begun. When I preached in Sumter, South Carolina a few years ago, the evidences of Hurricane Hugo were apparent. Rebuilding efforts were still in progress years after the storm.

We are called today to recognize another kind of storm. It is a storm which is raging fiercely, threatening to destroy our homes. The storm is multi-faceted. Some elements are immediately destructive. Others are quiet, yet nonetheless deadly. Their impact will not be seen in the immediate future, but will come to fruition with a horrible harvest in years to come.

Some of the elements of this storm currently devastating our lives are a financial bondage based on a materialistic mind set, a mentality of impermanence where the ultimate commitment is signing a 60-month auto loan, and an attitude of lust for ever increasing or broadening arenas of entertainment.

I could go on and on. The raging storm has many other destructive elements, such as secularism, lack of respect for authority, etc. Our families are losing the battle. They are losing ground against the storm. There is the awful lack of responsibility to rear our children so that they can stand the storm. We are not preparing our children internally to face the external storms.

We must recognize that the home is one of the prime spots for spiritual warfare. Multitudes over the years have experienced the sting of spiritual warfare in the home. I do not need to shower you with statistics. You know well how Satan has been able to invade the home. He has been able to stir up the storms to the point that many lives lay shipwrecked on the shore never to sail again. We have a generation of “walking wounded” who bear the scars of the storms which are a direct result of Satan’s warfare.

The presence of this storm calls us to remember the crucial factors in family development. This remembering is needed by all present, for in your membership in the family of God, there comes the responsibility to be a contributor, a supporter of “family” It is the responsibility of every disciple. It is, obviously, most crucial for parents and grandparents.

Most parents face the issue of contribution, of sacrifice when they struggle with the demands of parenting. What is the role of the parent? What will be the cost? Are we able to bear the sacrifice? In spite of all the bad news about child abuse and parental neglect, most parents come down on the side of sacrifice, taking their jobs seriously, almost to the point of giving themselves up for their children.

Good parenting does not require ultimate sacrifice, but it does demand more than a mere contribution. Perhaps the best word is commitment. For Christian parents, the Bible provides a wealth of resources and inspiration. Perhaps no story provides more of each than that of the childhood of Jesus. These Jewish parents took their job seriously.

Turn with me to both Luke 2:41-52 and Psalm 78:1-11. How can we help our families face the storm? The evil one wants them. How can we protect them?


Luke 2:41 - Even the limited information about the family of Jesus suggests an ebb and flow between these two institutions--Jewish faith and Jewish family. Jesus was taken to the Temple for circumcision and for His mother’s purification rites when He was eight days old.

We hear no more until he was 12, but Luke tells us He grew in favor with both God and the people who knew Him (v. 40). The conflict on the occasion of the visit to Jerusalem was the result of Jesus moving more deeply into His own theological interests and how this direction touched the authority of His parents. Nevertheless, the Jewish faith was significantly and positively involved in both the authority of His parents and in the claims of God on His life.

Most parents learn they cannot do everything for their children. The church offers a partnership with them in the parenting task. First, the church helps celebrate crucial rites of passage (birth, baptism, graduation, and marriage) because these events require a larger community. Second, the church provides comfort, encouragement, and support in times of stress and failure. It is because life is tough and parents are imperfect, they need the faith support system. Third, the church provides assistance in instruction. The genius of the church’s education program is that parents join other parents and wise adults to do what they could not do by themselves.

Isn’t it sad that there is so little excitement about Sunday School? It is a wonderful way to do some of what God has commanded. May we take the partnership seriously. Many of you by example are teaching your children and other’s children that the church is not vitally important.


Of all the attitudes a parent can adopt, the worst surely is to say, as so many do: “I am not going to force religion on my children. I am going to let them make up their own minds when they are old enough.” So in the meantime, during their impressionable years, the world forces its views upon them. Godless companions mold and fashion their tender minds and hearts.

God holds parents accountable for the spiritual instruction of their children. Mary and Joseph took seriously their responsibility. Turn to Psalm 78:1-11. Our passage from Psalms shows the absolute necessity for parental guidance. Look at 78:4. “We will not hide them [the revelations God has made concerning Himself] from their children, showing to the generation to come the praises of the Lord . . . He commanded our fathers, that they should make them [the Lord’s testimonies and laws] known to their children: that the generation to come might know them . . . who should arise and declare them to their children.” The father is to teach the son, the son is to teach the grandson, the grandson is to teach the great-grandson. Truth is to be handed on diligently from generation to generation.

God recognizes no generation gap. The gap is bridged, age after age, by the diligent teaching of the Word of God. What is the result? “That they might set their hope in God, and not forget the words of GOD, but keep His commandments.” What God wants is a spiritual chain reaction! Truth my father held will become truth I hold, truth I hold will become truth my sons hold. But it is not truth I hold because my father held it. It is truth I hold because it is true. It is truth I hold because it is the truth. I recognize it as the truth, and I pass it on as the truth. God has commanded this kind of instruction, and He will bless it.

Verses 8-11 show the inevitable results of a lack of parental guidance. There was a breakdown in this line of communication in Israel and, as a result, chaos set in. The psalmist insists on biblical teaching of children so that they “might not be as their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation.” He cites the example of Ephraim who, because he no longer had a vital, dynamic faith, grounded in a historical revelation, “turned back in the day of battle.” Defeat and disgrace came upon this tribe because it no longer had a dynamic, historical faith in the living God. Failure to pass on vital spiritual truth resulted in disintegration of national character. The same principle is at work in society today.

John Phillips states, “I was born in South Wales. At the turn of the century spiritual revival swept through the mining villages. Whole communities turned to God. The face of society was changed. Tavern keepers went bankrupt, prisons were virtually emptied, life in the mines, harsh and tough though it undoubtedly was, was made more pleasant by a new spirit of kindness and godliness amongst the miners. But there was no father-to-son chain reaction. As a result, one travels up and down those same Welsh villages today and sees little evidence that this was a land once bathed in HolyGhost revival. Indeed, socialism and communism are far more in evidence in Wales today than the gospel. One analyst says: “The young have ‘gone left’ in Britain because there is no longer anything to believe in — not Christianity, not the empire, not the old institutions” (Time, February 16, 1981, p. 38). The same is true of the United States, which has also raised a generation or two ignorant of the Bible and intolerant of the country’s rich spiritual past.”

What happens to a nation which fails to pass on its spiritual heritage to its children? “The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle; they did not keep God's covenant and refused to live by his law. They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them.” Fathers, do your children know your favorite team or TV show or your favorite Bible verse? Mother’s, do your children know your favorite verse?

So the psalmist declares his theme. Ours is a historical faith. We must pass on its historical basis in fact to our children. If we do, God will bless. If we don’t, there will be a decay of national character leading to a refusal to face the foe. The storm will do irreparable damage. It is not to just protect. To protect against the deepest storms, fathers and mothers must pass on the faith.


Luke 2:29 - Mary and Joseph seem to have been involved in the struggle with maintaining control and turning loose. That Jesus could have been missing as long as He was suggests a high level of trust in that family. Jesus’ pointed and independent answer suggests that He took that trust seriously.

The major flaw in most parent-child relationships has to do with too much control/closeness, or too little. Either smothering or a lack of limits results in some kind of rebellion or acting out as the child cries out for a balance. One of the values of our evangelical tradition in faith development is the intense level of nurture the churches try to provide children and the value the churches place on the child’s own statement of faith.

When a child steps forward to declare faith in Jesus Christ, the church says yes. In the home as well as in the church, the child needs direction and process. The child also needs room to make some decisions on his or her own.

Luke’s story begins and ends with an affirmation of Jesus’ development (vv. 40, 52). The hard truth about parenting is that the task requires more than just a contribution. When the home and the church share the task, when the journey is both corporate and individual, when process and decision both play a part, the result is that our children increase in wisdom and in stature, in favor with God and with the community. Thanks be unto God!