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Christ Will Help The Home
I'm convinced that the problems of family life and marriage in America are problems It's not a matter of too much money or too little money.
It's not that life is moving too fast or that technology has taken over or that people
that stem from the lack of love.
aren't educated enough.
It is not that poverty or prejudice deprive people of a chance for a good home life..
Even with all the love-talk in America, and with all the love stories and all the novels, the TV,
the movies, and advertisements connecting everything in our society with love
-- we don't know how to love!
And because we don't know how, we often simply do not truly love each other.
Sometimes, we make love something weak and shallow, and see it as emotional feelings
and the physical expression of those feelings.
We often hear parents describe the way they express affection for their children by saying,
"I love them."
What they mean is that they held them and they hugged them and they kissed them.
Now that is great and beautiful and necessary, but it isn't love.
It is an expression of love.
Love is a relationship.
Love is believing in someone.
Love is seeing into the heart of another, and building up that person and appreciating that person.
Love is saying, " You're someone special to me. I love you!"
Love is such a difficult thing in life.
Love is a difficult thing to do well.
It is difficult to do responsibly and selflessly.
We blow it so easily, and we don't know how to recover.
We don't know how to restore it -- to get it back again.
Love is such a vague word.
It seems so general and so difficult to define.
At the same time it is so personal and emotional.
But it is a word, a quality, and a reality of such frightening power.
And, if we do not learn to love, all our relationships are in jeopardy.
These are times of great self-centeredness.
More and more people are bent on fulfilling themselves at the expense of
their nearest and dearest.
They do what they want to do without regard for others.
If you're "fulfilling" yourself, and letting your ego ride high, it is so easy
to forget how to love another.
There are those who are trying to hang onto a marriage, and there are those
who tried and couldn't.
And many are looking for help to survive and to build a new life and maybe find
someone to love them.
And we must not judge those who try and fail.
We must love them and remember that God loves us and forgives us.
God also loves them and forgives them when they seek His forgiveness.
Love is not automatic, and sometimes -- we blow it.
But I have good news for you in your heartache and despair.
I have the best news for husbands and wives and for moms and dads.
I have the best news for every boy and girl here.
I know Someone who can help you.
I know Someone who can help your family.
His name is Jesus!
How does Christ help the home?
What does Christianity have to contribute to the modern-day family in the space age?
What difference can Jesus make to your family life?
I could never touch the depths to what Christ can do, but I will express a thought or two.
Jesus teaches us proper motivation.
Jesus motivated people by challenging them, rather than condemning them.
Everyone in the home must be involved in motivating other members of family.
Now, I'm not speaking of manipulation -- that is controlling.
And I'm not speaking of maneuvering others to suit us.
To motivate may mean merely to create a climate in the family where each can become
his or her best self, without being threatened with fear, guilt, or an appeal to duty.
Fear, as John says in John 4:18, has to do with punishment.
Fear says, "If you do not do so and so, I am going to punish you."
Guilt says, "Aren't you ashamed of yourself for not acting such and such a way?"
Appeal to duty says, "It's your duty to love me -- after all I am your father -- mother -- brother, etc."
Too much of family life has been built upon threats.
But threats are a poor means of motivation.
With threats we may get the other person or persons to give in, but we will rarely accomplish
free acts of giving with threats.
And most of us know the difference between giving and giving in.
There is a place in the family for healthy, loving discipline to deter and direct a child.
I also believe that Jesus taught us that challenge rather than condemnation is the goal
of interpersonal relationships in the Christian family.
This should also be the goal between older children (as they mature) and adults.
There shouldn't be commands, but there should be requests and invitations.
It is sad, but there seems to be a basic unwritten creed in the average American home which reads:
"If you want a person to do good or be good, then make him feel bad about himself."
But an appeal to guilt and shame is not Christian.
We, as Christians, can learn a better way from Christ.
Christ helps our family in that He sets us free.
When Christ lives in a home, and when His love is evident in the family, you see freedom
in that family's ability to communicate.
Their hearts are open to every member of the family.
They can open up to each other, and are not fearful of being laughed at, scolded, or run off.
They share their joys, and help each other carry their burdens.
And, even if one family member distorts reality, the others will provide patient love and help
to bring his or her vision back to reality.
In an exchange of ideas there is freedom to differ without fear of loss of respect from the others.
Now this sounds good, but what do we do when love is gone?
The answer is that we must go were love comes from.
Go to that One who said: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." (John 15:12)
Jesus want your family to be joyful.
He wants each member to be glad and happy -- not miserable, angry, and always full of hurt and mistrust.
Jesus wants us to love each other.
After all, husbands and wives get married to "make beautiful music together."
And children come into our families for love, laughter, and a good life.
The audacious suggestion in the Bible is that there is Someone who can help you and your family.
He can help you find love or get it back again.
He can draw your family close again.
He can give every family purpose, power, love, laughter, and life.
No matter how we may want to deny it or to get out of it or soft-pedal it -- love is the only way!
Jesus said: "I demand that you love one another as much as I love you."
Jesus knows that will never make it unless we love each other.
Life is too much.
The world is too much.
The task is too traumatic and too demanding without Jesus' kind of love.
That kind of love will burn and shine as an eternal flame at the very heart of all our families.
Today, we have fallen into a view of love that is different from the view of Jesus.
We have sold ourselves or else our society has sold us the idea that love is pure emotion
or all feeling.
That is, if you don't have butterflies in your tummy all the time, and if, rockets don't go off,
and if you don't chill every time you look at your wife or husband, then you don't really love
him or her -- then, it's all over, and you had just better call it quits.
And then, you will go looking for someone who can make you feel that way.
And that is an endless, hopeless search.
Love is deeper than feelings.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning said in her famous poem: "How do I love thee?
Let me count the ways..."
Jesus said, "The greatest love (real love) is shown when a person lays down
his life for his friends..."
So, real love is measured by sacrifice.
This is very different from human feelings in the tummy, etc.
This is very different from endless good times, and different from strictly physical love.
The test of love, the suffering, and enduring difficulty, putting up with problems, and acknowledging
someone else's life is more important than your own.
Jesus teaches us that we are not just cultivating our own little soul when we love.
We suffer, if we have to.
We bear the burden in the heat of the day.
We put up with.
We weep with those who weep.
We rejoice with those who rejoice.
We take people where they are and as they are.
We listen to their heart.
We hear their sighs and their cries.
We share their pain.
We walk in their shoes.
We say continually: "I am with you. I love you!"
This means putting up with everything.
It means putting up with all the awful strains of growing and of changing.
This includes the moods, the seething angers, the horrible arguments in the middle of the night.
This includes storming out into the night wishing you could die.
This includes all the family wars between the generations.
This includes all that makes you sick.
This includes the mess that you never bargained for, and probably didn't deserve.
This includes the commitment: "For better, for worse, for richer for poorer,
in sickness and in health, till death do us part."
The measure of real love is giving up your life for the ones you love, and that is exactly
what Jesus did for us whom He loved.
Love means more than not having to say you're sorry.
Love means forgiving after being hurt.
Love means giving up yourself for those you love.
Love, after all, begats love.
Love given creates love in the person to whom it is given.
Here is the most exciting and sensational truth.
Here is the answer for every family.
It is from Jesus.
John 15: 12: "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends."
Sermon by Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at hleewhite@AOL.com