I grew up in a small town, surrounded by family. I could see my grandparents’ house through my front window. My eight aunts and uncles plus their spouses all lived in Washington/Oregon, most of them within 20 miles of our home. We got together frequently; large gatherings with many cousins, lots of food, and fun times. I was surrounded by a loving family and extended family, all of whom made me feel that they really cared about me and what was going on in my life.
In his book, “The Storm-Tossed Family” (How the Cross Reshapes our Home), Russell Moore writes, “Family is awesome. Family is terrible. As Christians, we already have a category for that. The cross shows us how we can find beauty and brokenness, justice and mercy, peace and wrath, all in the same place. The pattern of the Christian life is crucified glory—this is as true for our lives in our families as in everything else”. He sees our family life as involving both a spiritual battle and the sacrifice of taking up our cross daily. “The cross shaped life,” Moore writes, “frees us to neither idealize nor demonize the family”.
God created us with a need to belong, a need to be part of something bigger than ourselves, and he continues to meet that need through families. The church is critically important in our time because of the breakdown of many families. We must be the family that God calls us to be. We must be a place where everyone feels accepted and where they can belong, no matter the failures in their life. Moore writes, “The church is not a collection of families. The church is a family. We are not ‘family friendly’; we are family” (p. 60). Or, as the poet Robert Frost put it, “A family is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in.”