Summary: Considering how to maintain family unity.

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Maintaining Family Unity – Eph 4:22-32

Gladstone Baptist Church – 5/9/04

Screen Viva La Difference – The Ledger people.

Well this is the last night in our series on the family and we are stopping to consider the issue of unity within families. If you were to watch many of the TV shows featuring families in the last couple of decades, you would be forgiven for believing that family life was a piece of cake. Yes it was true that families had problems, but no matter what arose, the problem was solved within half an hour or an hour if it was really serious.

The Brady’s managed to somehow merge 2 completely different families into one with very few hiccups and from all intents and purposes, the kids all turned out well. The Bradford Family managed to fit 8 into one house complete with one bathroom. Different Strokes managed to blend people from two vastly different cultures into one family. The Partridge family was a bit different. It was a single mum trying to keep a family of performers on the straight and narrow. And 7th Heaven – I’m not sure what is going on there. Amazing that these families worked.

But in real life, the lives of some of the key characters showed that family life wasn’t always what it was cracked up to be.

Adam Rich who played Nicholas Bradford in Eight is enough was arrested several times from 1983-91 for drugs, shoplifting & breaking and entering. In April 1991, he smashed a pharmacy window in an attempt to steal drugs. He was arrested and was bailed out by his TV dad. He was almost immediately rearrested, this time for shoplifting. He pled no contest to both charges.

Gary Coleman from Different Strokes was adopted and ended up suing his parents for $3.8 million over misappropriation of his trust fund. Life was so bad, that he twice attempted suicide with sleeping pills. He had family conflict.

Danny Bonaduce from the Partridge Family had a pretty tough real life. His father physically abused his siblings though of his own relationship, he has said “My Dad did not like me enough to hit me. My dad thought he was disciplining. My dad never thought he was being abusive – ever. He always thought he was doing the right thing, and he did not like me enough to do the right thing by me. Which would have been to whip me – literally – into shape.” Danny’s Dad had total distain for Danny which eventually forced He and his Mother out of home. Later Danny got addicted to drugs in a bad way. He was pretty messed up for a long while.

In real life, family life is often not the kiss and make up stuff that these TV shows were made of. For so many families, behind closed doors there is painful conflict. It shouldn’t really be surprising, because every family is comprised of mere mortals — imperfect people. And imperfect people regularly have conflicts.

Every family needs to deal with conflict at some time and at some level. Married couples fight as they try to merge two individuals into one couple. Parents disagree about how they should raise their children. Children fight with each other and their parents because they don’t get their own way.

Every family needs to be equipped to resolve conflict when they arise. The Book of Ephesians is a book about all sorts of relationships. It deals with how an individual can function as a part of a church, a marriage, a family, a workplace and even in society. The Book of Ephesians covers just about every kind of relationship one can imagine and there is one section which specifically deals with resolving conflict. Though it is written specifically for people in the church, it is practical advice that can be related to any relationship – even family relationships. So this evening, I want to spend some time looking at this passage to find some practical help in maintaining family unity.

Read Eph 4:22-32 if needed

Paul is here speaking to Christians who are having problems with disunity and he says (vs22) You were taught to do 3 things.

1) To PUT OFF your old self. That is the old way of life, your old way of doing things, your old attitudes, etc. The image is like an old set of clothes. You take them off and put them to one side with the aim of putting on something different. Paul says the old self which we put off is continuously being corrupted. If left to ourselves, our attitudes of selfishness quickly begin to dominate in our lives. It is all about us winning and so we keep a ledger of those people that owe us things. But Paul says that we are to firstly put off this old selfish self.

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