In our last article, this statement was made:
“The Theology of the Family begins here. Our homes, no matter where on the planet, are to be the special locale of the image of God. Redeemed men and women who now love the Father, are loved by the Father, and exist in the love of the Son forever, are His household; they are the sons and daughters of God (Revelation 21:7).”
A proper theology of the family cannot begin until we understand, believe, and live the truth that man was made to be the image of God according to His likeness. Once that door opens, we begin to see our wayward children differently. We begin to see our husband/wife differently. We begin to see our entire household structure differently. Why? Why would this little truth begin to do that? Because this alone is the bridge you must cross in order to see sin in your home as opportunities for redemption and not insurmountable obstructions to which we must resign ourselves. In other words, whatever the condition of your home, it is, to some degree, caught in the ravages of sin. Whether it is a husband who refuses to work, a wife who refuses to care for her household, children who refuse to listen, or a multitude of combinations, sin does not have to have the last say. Therefore, if you can see sin differently, you will respond differently to the responsibilities God has given.
Previously, we saw that the home is the special locale of the glory of God. That is to say, since God made man in His image and glory (1 Corinthians 11:7), and men and women and children live together in the home as a family, the home becomes the special locale for the image of God. Therefore, all the relationships in that home should be directed and informed by who God is. The Person of God teaches us how to respond toward God, behave toward one another, and how to fulfill our responsibilities in the home.
If I were to sum up the Tri-unity of God, it could be explained that God is fundamentally love (1 John 4:8) and that love is expressed in the relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They perfectly love one another. Therefore, it must also be the expression of love between a husband, wife, and children. The fundamental quality of all that must occur in the home is love that reflects the depth and quality of God’s own love. When we depart from that, we depart from His glory. Let’s review.
Love Is The Key:
Jesus said that the weightiest commandment in the Law is summed up in Matthew 22:37–40:
37 And He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’
38 “This is the great and foremost commandment.
39 “The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’
40 “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
“On these two commandments depend the whole Law and Prophets.” The word “depend” has the idea of a nail upon which you might hang a cloak or garment. If you take that nail away, the garment falls to the floor. That is the point here. The Law is holy, just, and good (Romans 7:14). However, if you remove love, which must motivate a person to keep the Law, the Law falls to the ground and is no good. It is soiled. Therefore, for Israel to keep the Law perfectly they must be perfect in love. But that is the point, is it not? They did not love. They neither loved God nor man. Remember the Lord was asked concerning the greatest commandment and He referred to Deuteronomy 6:5 as the starting point. That is, the greatest, highest, weightiest commandment that God has ever given man, is to love Him. This love is not affection alone, neither is it mere talk. It is a commitment, an allegiance, a submission. All throughout the Old Testament, when you see the sin and rebellion of Israel, you are not only seeing disobedience to clear commandments and precepts, you are seeing a severe lack of love for God. The same is true in our lives. We have all the commandments of Jesus Christ for His church. However, if we lack love for God, the commandments become our condemnation. We are spiritually “crusted over,” as it were. We are called to love God supremely, utterly, and solely. No other relationship should come close…not even relationships in the family (Matthew 10:37-39; cf. Luke 14:26-35). This is why John tells us not to love the world. This love must be for God alone. To share that with any other relationship is to abandon God and idolize others (Matthew 6:24; 1 John 2:15). However, when we love God first and most, the product of that love is love for others.
Secondly, as mentioned, a restoration of the love of God in our hearts consequently creates a reality of love that is evident in all relationships. That fact, which is the result of the Holy Spirit in us (Romans 5:5), causes us to live in a quality of divine love. This love is unlike any expression of love among mankind. It is solely the quality of the Triune God. That is the point of Matthew 5:43-48. If you love as the world loves, that is far from the perfections of the Father. If you want to be perfect as He is, love those who hate you. However, don’t love with worldly love that seeks a return, but with God’s love that expresses the very nature of who He is. To love those how persecute you is to pray for them, care for their needs, and desire their reconciliation with God.
Jesus set the pattern for us perfectly, of course (1 Peter 2:21-25). John records Jesus as saying, in the upper room, “…but so that the world may know that I love the Father, I do exactly as He has commanded Me” (John 14:31). This is the sum of Jesus’ entire ministry…His love for the Father demonstrated in perfect obedience! Being sent to the earth in His incarnation was the command of the Father (John 5:36). Every hour and every event of His ministry was the purpose of the Father (John 17:1). His death on the cross and the resurrection were both according to the command of the Father (Acts 2:22-23). Therefore, when you see Jesus in Scripture, what you see is absolute love for the Father which translates into perfect obedience. Obedience that was not from simple religious duty, but out of deep love for the Father.
This, then, brings us to consider our homes. If love is the fundamental nature of God (1 John 4:7-9), the fundamental “nail” of the Law, and the fundamental quality of Jesus’ ministry, then it must become the fundamental quality of our homes as well. And that is the sum of the Theology of the Home. There are commandments and expectations that God has for fathers, mothers, and children. However, oftentimes we look to those as duty, and try to do them. The cart is dragging the horse at that point. The fruit of the Holy Spirit working in His people is the love that obeys (Galatians 5:22-23). The passions of sin, lust, and rebellion for the believer, have been crucified at the cross with Christ (Galatians 5:24). But someone may ask, “How then do I establish this love in my heart?” First, if you are a believer, it is already in your heart (Romans 5:5). Second, love is the fruit of the Spirit of God, not of the flesh (John 6:63). Third, in order to walk by the Spirit, you must fill your heart and mind with the Word of God, not with rote memorization and formulaic incantations, but with deep understanding and knowledge. Peter told us this in his first letter:
1 Peter 1:22–23
22 Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart,
23 for you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring word of God.
The Word of God, which is living and active (Hebrews 4:12), works in those who believe all that it teaches (1 Thessalonians 2:13). God’s Word by God’s work in us to will and do for His good pleasure (Philippians 2:12-13) will produce that love that is required, both for God and for man.
Now, don’t get me wrong, fathers and husbands must still learn how to love their wives, train up their children, work, plan, serve in the church, strive for godliness, and in general lead their homes (1 Timothy 3:4-5). Wives and mothers must still be workers at home, love their husbands, and raise godly children (Titus 2:3-5). Children must honor their parents, submitting to their instructions so that they might learn how to be wise, godly, fathers and mothers themselves one day (Ephesians 6:1-3). And that is the sum of family life–parents loving God and obeying His commandments so as to manage their households for His glory (1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17). However, unless it is done in the love that the Spirit of God produces, it is only a crust, a shell. And for many, that is exactly how we find the home.
Unless the Lord builds the house,
They labor in vain who build it;
Unless the Lord guards the city,
The watchman keeps awake in vain.
Husbands, sanctify your wife and prepare her to meet the Lord one day. Do this by the washing of the Word, but do it in love. Wives, respect your husbands and submit to them with fervor and not fear. But do so in love. Fathers, train up your children in the instructions of the Lord in love. Mothers, instruct your children in their responsibilities in the home in love. Children, obey your parent’s instructions in the same way that you would the Lord. Do what they instruct. Learn from them. But do it in love. All instructions for our homes, as well as any aspect of life, are to be obeyed in love…the love of and for God. Love God primarily, ultimately, supremely. Make your obedience a demonstration of love (John 14:31).