“I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.” Ephesians 3:14-15
Our family’s theology is simple: to model Jesus in our everyday living. We moved to the inner-city for this reason. We raise financial support for this reason. Programs will come and go and, although helpful at times, living out the Gospel is what produces lasting effects. We have seen a neighbor come to saving faith through the inner-workings of a community and we shared many a meal with her and had many long hours of conversation with her on our couch in the middle of our chaotic and messy house with kids running around. And we’ve heard the testimony of another neighbor whom we share a friendship with today who told us that she has never felt so safe and loved anywhere in her life as she does now, living next door to us. We don’t take any personal credit for this of course. But we are confident that Jesus is being modeled through the messiness of our family life and sometimes, just the fact that we are a family who loves the Lord, speaks volumes. Forget the programs (beneficial as they are), relationships have the power to point others to Jesus. Rebecca Cloney Jones reminds us that the family is a powerful model:
“In bringing to bear all the powers of our feminine nature to the task of beautifying the family, we use a picture chosen by God Himself to show the Gospel to the world. This picture is all the more beautiful and striking today, when marriage and family are disintegrating at breath taking speed. The family is a powerful evangelistic tool in a postmodern world that refuses to debate Christianity rationally or to admit its experiential advantages over mystical techniques of self-absorbed spirituality. But you must dare to invite people into the messiness of your home. You don’t get yourself and your children looking perfect so everyone can see how beautiful you are. Instead, those who enter your home will see that you are sinful and selfish. That’s encouraging to them. You are not there to judge them. You simply show them that even though your kids behave badly sometimes, God gives you patience with them. And when you lose your patience, you humbly ask God and your children for forgiveness. You and your husband may argue, but you are still married and happy after 10, 20, or 40 years, whereas your friends’ problems may have followed them through three marriages already.
Understanding that our work in the home is truly gospel work helps us experience the grace of the gospel in our own homes. In turn, that freedom gives us courage to speak the gospel as a natural overflow of a heart that praises God. Speak your heart and God will be glorifified. Christ the evangelist works through you and your family, sinners though you are. So the next time you clean up a messy room, serve a meal, drive a child to school, fold a load of laundry, or even ‘turn a collar’, remember what your King said: ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:40)