GOD'S BEAUTIFUL FAMILY
Dear Christian friends,
There are some who have tried to connect Mother’s Day to the ancient goddess named Cybele. She was the goddess of motherhood among the Phrygians. But that’s pretty well debunked. Mother’s Day is an American bred and American grown celebration. It all goes back to a lady by the name of Anna Jarvis. She was born in 1864 and died in 1948. She was a schoolteacher and very devoted to her mother. She loved her mother and took care of her, but she also saw how many mothers in their old age weren’t treated well by their children. When Anna’s mother died in 1905 she began a letter writing campaign to businessmen, ministers and congressmen. She asked them to support a day honoring mothers.
Three years later her persistence paid off. Her hometown in West Virginia and the city of Philadelphia, where she moved, held Mother’s Day observances. In 1910 the state of West Virginia held a special day. By 1914, under President Woodrow Wilson the second Sunday in May was established as Mother’s Day, a national holiday.
There is a huge difference between these days and the days of Anna Jarvis. In Anna Jarvis’ day it was the exception and not the rule to have a mother without a father taking care of the family. Now, better than half the children born are born with no father present. There is a direct link between such situations and poverty, jail population and a lot of social ills. When people cite the connection, they are often booed down and called prejudiced.
God speaks through Peter today on this Mother’s Day and instructs on God’s Beautiful Family as 1) He speaks to wives; 2) He speaks to husbands.
Many sociologists, professors in college classrooms and Hollywood, people who influence the thoughts and attitudes for far too many people – even people inside the church – have said these words of Peter to wives and husbands are totally unacceptable. They complain they are out-dated, biased, discriminatory and impractical! Oh yeah, they are also chauvinistic. But let’s understand something here; they come from the Bible. When Jesus told his disciples, “I am the bread of life…” the disciples asked, “These are hard words, who can believe them?” They might be hard words to swallow for the sinful nature, but remember two things: They come from Jesus and our sinful nature is exactly that – our sinful nature. As Bible believing Christians they are not optional.
Peter is addressing the problem of mixed marriages. It appears that couples were married. It also appears that the couples for the most part were unbelievers when they married. But then one became a Christian. It appears that in many cases the wife did. So what happens now? Does she leave the marriage because her husband doesn’t want anything to do with Jesus? Peter says absolutely not but don’t leave Jesus either. In fact, practice your faith more than ever before.
Allow me to make an observation. You notice that he is addressing women. I have noticed that far more women than men seek membership in church. Often when men do they leave scuff marks in the entryway. I remember once studying that very point. I found that it was about 65% women, 35% men. Peter seems to be talking about the same spiritual phenomena or is it dilemma 2000 years ago?
What is it about men? Is there this macho image that we feel we need to maintain? Is it all about independence and freedom? Faith isn’t reasonable or logical, is that it? Is it that we don’t want our money going to a church when it can be better spent on fishing tackle or that Callaway driver? Hey, maybe we are better equipped to talk about the Atlanta Falcons than Jesus, huh?
Let’s talk about the challenge of not being on the same page as far as faith in the home is concerned. How did that happen in the first place?
Someone gave me insights that I hope young people and parents understand. Picking a spouse is one the biggest decisions that a person faces. I heard a biblical scholar explain something that made a lot of sense to me. He did it using the three Greek words used in the Bible for love.
Picking a husband or a wife often starts with a physical attraction. The Greek language has a word for that – “eros.” Someone is pleasing to the eyes. Unfortunately, because we are sinful, the appeal can be all wrong. From that attraction a friendship may develop. Not only is the person pleasing to look at but also to be with. That word in Greek is “philia” in Greek - a love that is mutual.
That combination of ‘eros’ and ‘philia’ is a romantic love. Fireworks go off. People walk into walls. There are glazed eyes. But in many respects this love is selfish. That person pleases me. That person is pleasing to my eyes. Love needs to advance beyond that. It needs to turn from focusing on self to the other. It needs to be unconditional. What happens if that person who looks so good gets a scar? What happens when they age?
Studies have concluded that a marriage fails if love doesn’t proceed to that selfless love – agape love. In fact, experts give a marriage based on physical attraction two years. A greater caring love needs to develop that is totally committed to caring for the other person. Less me and more you!
Agape love is God’s kind of love. When God so loved the world, he “agaped” the world. When God lavished his love on us, he lavished his “agape” on us. If love doesn’t get to this selfless point then every mistake and flaw that a spouse does will be a source of irritation. The reason the Hollywood crowd goes through marriage like a revolving door is it is based only on the beautiful people instead of a beautiful family in the sight of God. It is no joke when the Bible says, “It is better to live on a corner of the roof than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.” That works both ways.
Wives, agape love is demonstrated when Peter says, “Wives, in the same way submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives.” A theologian said this about these verses, “If the husband is an unbeliever, winning him over to Christ should be her first priority, and that will not happen if she withdraws from him, show him that she despises him, or disrespects him publicly or privately. Then he would blame her Christianity for making their marriage miserable. God’s way is for the believing wife to treat her husband well – in this way the silent testimony of her love and submission will make Jesus Christ look good, and the husband may later come to faith because of the wonderful way in which she treats him.”
If I quoted these words to a National Organization of Women Convention or to a host or hostess on CNN, I would be as despised as Donald Sterling these days. “Submit” is a dirty to far too many. It is not a dirty word in God’s dictionary. In fact, God speaks of submission as a virtue that God commends. We submit to government. We submit to our employer. We submit to God. Jesus submitted to the Heavenly Father. Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me.” He said, “Whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.”
Our sinful nature protests like crazy, but our new nature created by the Holy Spirit does not. In fact, God has a pecking order when it comes to authority and leadership. I Corinthians says, “But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.” Think about this. There is the Father; the Son submits to the Father; man submits to the Son and the Father; the woman submits to the man and the Son and the Father.
That doesn’t make men superior or of greater worth or more intelligent or of more value. In fact, it is my opinion and the opinion of many others that a family can get along easier without the dad and father rather than the wife and mother. There is no difference in status before God. We are his family. There is a difference in roles within the family.
There is more divine instruction. He continues to speak to women. “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewelry or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.” All women including Christian women face a great deal of pressure in society to be beautiful. I get my information on the internets. The only time I read magazines is when I wait in the doctor’s office or a dentist’s office. I suggested to our dentist that he needs to subscribe to Sports Illustrated. Every time I go to the dentist, he only has magazines with the Hollywood beautiful. I want to see the blood and sweat of the athletes.
Some say that Peter is forbidding make up and jewelry and fancy hairdos. He is saying that none of us should find our worth found in how we look. In fact, if we have to paint our houses now and then maybe that is true of other things too.
What is inside is what counts. There needs to be a huge space for Jesus. God is concerned about “the beauty of a gentle spirit and great God-centered character.’ So is an intelligent man. Check out the Bible where God tells us who the real models are. “For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to adorn themselves. They submitted themselves to their own husbands, like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her lord. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear.’ Let your goals in life be God’s goals and not what is said in Vogue or Vanity Fair.
But he also speaks to men. He speaks to you, husbands. If you are observant you can see that of the seven verses here six are addressed to women. No, ladies, I am not going to make a smart aleck remark. In fact, quite the opposite! In Ephesians five, twelve verses are devoted to the husband/wife relationship. Three verses are devoted to the wife and nine are devoted to the husband.
Here Peter says, “Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wivesand treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.” When men are given the responsibility to lead there are a couple temptations: 1) to use the headship selfishly, to control and abuse and dominate; 2) To intimidate and cause people to fear men because men are usually physically bigger.
Sinful society seems to judge women on their beauty; men are judged by their physical strength. It is true that God has made men and women differently. We have different parts; we have different physiques. Men are generally physically stronger. Bu then God has done so in order to protect our families.
But that doesn’t give men the right to be a dictator or tyrant. In fact, God commands us to be considerate. Think about how you would feel in your spouse’s shoes. Do things for your family even when they don’t need help. Show interest in wife’s job and what she does during the day. Do random acts of kindness. When I was a student at the Seminary, there was a pastor who was renowned for bringing his wife a gift every single day. Wow! Observe how people react to your acts of kindness. If they are surprised, that should tell you something. Be patient!
Treat your wife as God has treated her and you. Together we are co-heirs of heaven. God has treated us with extreme love. Treat her as your most beloved earthly possession. Pray for her always.
Karen Donovan created a company called Rent-A-Wife in Petaluma, California. It was created to help clients decorate their homes, balance checkbooks, run errands and help families with the millions of things moms do. After four months she was already thinking big. She wanted to hire her father to initiate another company called Rent-A-Husband and her two teens to start Rent-A-Family. "Rent-A-Family can do what any family does," Ms. Donovan joked. "We can come over and eat all the food, turn on all the lights, put handprints on the walls, take showers and leave the towels on the floor. When our Rent-a family is through, you can call Rent-a-wife.
Moms, your eyes are rolling. That’s about right! I am speaking for your families this morning. I say, “Thank you! We thank God for you! You are a most beautiful part of God’s beautiful family.