OPEN: A man was once hired to go and take a census in the hills of east Tennessee. He came to one ram-shackle home, knocked on the door and was greeted by a young girl. Brandishing his clipboard, the interviewer asked the girl, "Is your mom home?"
She said, "Nah, she ran off with a moon shiner."
The man continued, "Is your father home?"
"Nah," she replied, "He Pokes his head in once a month to take a bath."
The frustrated guy said, "Do you have an older sister?”
“Yep”, she replied.
“Well, is she home?”
"Nope, she’s in jail for shooting the sheriff."
“Well, do you have a older brother?”
The guy said, "Well then, is your older brother home?"
She said, "Nah, he’s at Harvard."
The astonished census taker gasped and said, "Harvard? What’s he STUDYING?"
The girl said, "Nothing. They’re studyin’ him!"
APPLY: Somehow it makes sense that a university would end up studying one of them… because they OBVIOUSLY weren’t normal people.
But we want to be normal people with normal families. Over the years, the task of Christians trying to raise a “Normal” family has become harder and harder. And the reason is this: we are trying to raise G rated families in an increasingly “R-rated” world.
Some friends of mine compiled a list of TV sit-coms about families that have been popular over the past 50 years or so.
Father Knows Best
I Love Lucy
Leave It To Beaver
The Dick Van Dyke Show
Family Affair - single father, with a butler, raising two kids
Brady Bunch – “blended family”
Happy Days which focused more on the kids than on “family”
All in the Family – highly dysfunctional family headed by Archie Bunker
The Cosby Show
Full House – 3 men raising a family together
Kate and Allie – 2 divorced women raising their kids together
Married with Children
Simpson’s (Prime time Cartoon family)
2000 til now
“Family Guy” (Prime time Cartoon family)
Two And A Half Men
Now, if you noticed - clear up through the 1980’s there was always at least a remnant of shows that shared family values we could model our homes after. But by the time we got to the 90’s it seems to have become more difficult to watch TV with our families and find something we could be comfortable enough with to call a “good role model.”
In fact, “Family Guy” has taken to advertising itself as a “G-Rated” show. The “G” they say, stands for “Grown Up”. In reality, of course, the show is less about being “Grown up” than it is about being infantile and offensive. But that show’s creators exemplify the mindset of many of TV’s most popular writers.
Ellen Goodman (a liberal feminist) wrote in The Boston Globe
“Americans once expected parents to raise their children in accordance with the dominant cultural messages. Today they are expected to raise their children in opposition to them.
Once, the chorus of cultural values was full of ministers, teachers, neighbors, leaders. They demanded more conformity, but offered more support.
Now the messengers are violent cartoon characters, rappers and celebrities selling sneakers. Parents are considered ‘responsible’ only if they are successful in their resistance.
That’s what makes child raising harder. It’s not just that American families have less time with their kids; it’s that we have to spend more of this time doing battle with our own culture.”
I. For the next few Sundays we’re going to be asking ourselves – How can we counter the influence of the world on our families?
Because the world DOES influence our families… whether we like it or not.
Having studied our text from I Peter, I believe I’ve discovered some intriguing principles than can help us be successful in create a “G” rated home in an “R-rated” atmosphere.
The 1st thing I noticed in I Peter was that the spirituality in our homes has got to be based on our relationship with Jesus.
ILLUS: I recently heard of a man who was doing his morning devotions – reading his bible and praying - when suddenly a thought came into his head: “When your wife look at you does see you as Jesus?”
He thought that was a bizarre idea. “Why on earth would she see me as Jesus?”
But then it occurred to him: His wife should see Jesus when she looked at him. Scripture says that our objective as Christians is to become like Jesus. When people look at us…they should see a family resemblance.
One person asked himself these questions:
1. Is my mate closer to God or more distant from Him BECAUSE OF ME?
2. Can my family see that doing God’s will is the most important priority IN MY LIFE?
3. Does our family take a few minutes each day to read and discuss God’s Word?
4. Do all the family members pray together at least once a day in addition to mealtime?
5. Is our family ministering to others who are needy, lonely, and struggling, or are we
self-sufficient and isolated from those whom Christ came to serve?
6. Does our family talk to one another in loving tones as though we appreciate and value each other?
Now, if you’ll notice, I CAPITALIZED a couple of things in that list (the list had been shown on an overhead projection). I did that because I sensed there might be a temptation for some of us to look at our spouses and say… “Well, they certainly don’t live up to those standards.”
Now, I want you to look at our passage for this morning and see something that really stuck out at me as I studied it: Look again with me at I Peter 1:17-19
“Since YOU call on a Father who judges each man’s work impartially, live YOUR lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For YOU know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that YOU were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” 1 Peter 1:17-19
Notice that Peter stresses – as Christians - YOU must live your lives in a certain way.
Peter doesn’t say “WE” must live OUR lives this way…
He says: YOU have to.
ILLUS: When I’m up here preaching, I try very hard to be “inclusive” in my comments. I try very hard to avoid saying YOU. More often, When I’m stressing a point that I want you to understand and make a part of your life, I’ll say “WE” or “YOU AND I”.
I do that because I do not want to communicate the idea that I’m in some kind of ivory tower looking down on you and standing in judgment of you.
I say WE… because I believe we’re all in this thing together, and WE need each other. None of us is so powerful and self-sufficient that we could do this Church thing alone. We need each others’ prayers and encouragement.
But here, Peter says YOU. Not WE.
I suspect he did that because your spirituality has got to start with YOU. And the spirituality in your home has got to start with YOU.
It would be nice to be able to lean on your spouse to do your Christianity for you and to take the lead in making a home that God would be pleased with. But let’s face it, there are some here whose husband/wife won’t be of much help in creating the kind of home God would want us to have.
Why? Because, even in the best of Christian homes… our spouses don’t always measure up. And there’s a reason for that. Scripture says “ALL OF US have sinned and FALLEN SHORT”. That means, even the most spiritual partner is not going to cover all the bases the way they should. Since that is true, it would be foolish for us to say “Well, I won’t do anything until they do.” If you see the need, it’s worth your time to start setting the tone in your family.
At this point I want to acknowledge that there are some here whose spouses not only DON’T measure up. They don’t want God’s influence in the home.
If that’s true in your home, that can be a difficult situation. But, I have good news for you:
2 Chronicles 16:9 tell us "… the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose heart is loyal to Him..."
In other words… IF it IS just you trying to impact your family – God will reward you if your heart is turned loyally towards Him. God wants to show Himself strong on behalf of those whose hearts are loyal to Him.
But it’s got to start with you (and it’s got to start with me).
The next thing that I noticed in I Peter was that my spirituality (and that of my home) should to be built on the Blood of Jesus.
Rules and regulations are important elements in a strong family. In fact, a study from about 6 years ago indicated that the strongest homes seemed to be those were religiously conservative and “authoritarian”.
W. Bradford Wilcox wrote in “American Enterprise Magazine” that he had examined data from the “National Survey of Families and Households” and discovered that the homes of
religiously conservative parents were “characterized both by strict discipline and an unusually warm and expressive style of parent-child interaction.”
Wilcox also found that these fathers were more involved with their kids than the fathers in liberal and secular homes were.
Thus, we find that strict discipline can be good. It can set the tone of morality in the home. I know that in my own home we have a set of rules for our kids… and those rules are fairly strictly enforced. But we need to realize that rules and regulations – if we’re relying on them to create a “G-rated home” can fall seriously short.
ILLUS: One author told of ancient China and the need the people there to provide security against the barbaric hordes to the north, so they built the great wall. It was so high they believed no one could climb over it and so thick nothing could break it down.
During the first hundred years of the wall’s existence, China was invaded 3 times.
Not once did the barbaric hordes break down the wall or climb over it.
Each time they bribed a gatekeeper and then marched right through the gates.
One commentator made this observation: “The Chinese were so busy relying on walls of stone they forgot to teach integrity to their children.”
Rules and regulations are like walls. They can provide protection and security in a home. But without the influence of Jesus in our homes… those walls won’t keep the world out.
The only thing that going to keep the world out: stressing the importance of the Blood of Jesus in our lives. If we hold up the love and grace of God in contrast to the false promises and emptiness of this world… our children will sense the value of controlling the world’s influence in their lives.
Peter writes that you and I should: “… live your lives as strangers here in reverent fear. For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” 1 Peter 1:17-19
ILLUS: I was sitting at Taco Bell a couple of days ago and overheard a father talking with his 11 year old son on the basics of baseball. He was talking about how his boy should think ahead as a 2nd baseman and when the ball came to him where he should throw it if there was a runner on 1st, or if the bases were loaded, and so on.
I thought to myself how nice that was that this father was spending time with his son.
But then I got to thinking that this is how every mother and father ought to be with their kids… except we shouldn’t be nearly as concerned about how they play ball as we are with how they see Jesus.
You see, we can get ourselves caught up in all sorts of things in this world.
We get ourselves all caught up in sports
We get real excited about politics
We can even become enthralled with who won on American Idol and Survivor
Those are interesting distractions, but all that is emptiness.
Peter says – this world is not my home.
I may live here… own a home here… raise my kids here… pay taxes here.
But there’s an old spiritual says:
“This world is not my home… I’m just a passing through”
my treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue
the angels beckon me from heaven’s open door
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.”
This world is not my home…
Ø I don’t belong here
o This world has different priorities
o This world has a different morality
o This world has a destination
§ And I don’t want to go there!
2 Peter 3:10-11 tells us that “…the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives.”
The world is under judgment… it will be destroyed
Knowing that, why would I want to invest myself so heavily in something that’s not going to last. Why would I want to build my family’s ideals and priorities on the things of this world?
I have two children. An 8 year old daughter and a 12 year old son.
I want the best for them.
I want my kids to have the best education. Don’t you want that for your children?
I want my children to grow up and the best careers. Don’t you want that for your kids?
I want them to find a good person to marry and to raise fine upstanding families. Wouldn’t you want that for your kids?
And my kids could have all that… but if they don’t have the blood of Jesus in their lives, it’s all going to be for nothing.
Jesus put it fairly harshly: “For what shall it profit a man (or his children, or his grandchildren, or great grandchildren, or his nephews and nieces), if (they) shall gain the whole world, and lose (their) souls?” Mark 8:36
I’ve got to teach my kids that this world is not our home, that this world ultimately has nothing to offer us, that Jesus’ blood will be the only hope that will carry them through this world… and if I do that, I’ll a God rated home
CLOSE: As this is mother’s day, I searched through the Bible to find an example of a Godly woman who exemplified the teachings I found in I Peter… and I came across the story of woman who has often been overlooked by Bible Scholars.
Her family had to move to a foreign country because of a terrible famine. And while they were there, her sons married. But in time, her husband and sons died and she decided it was time to return to her home in Bethlehem.
That godly woman’s name was Naomi. And she was so dedicated to God, that her daughter-in-law, Ruth decided she wanted that life for herself as well. Ruth was so impressed by the dedication of Naomi’s life to God, that she told Naomi: “Your people shall be my people and your God shall be my God.”. From that day forward Ruth turned her back on the life she used to live.
Because of Naomi’s influence, Ruth built a God-rated home, and Ruth’s love for God was so powerful that her great grandson became one of the most influential men of the OT – David, King of Israel. Ultimately, Ruth was only a few women mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus Christ.
All this took place because one woman – Naomi – built her life around her dedication to God.
Often we’re simply focused on the influence we can have right here and right now on our children, grandchildren, etc. But the life of a man or woman who give themselves totally to God and turn their back on this world… can last for generations.
SERMONS IN THIS SERIES
Raising A G-Rated Family In An R-Rated World
1 Peter 1:17-1:19
Committing A G-Rated Marriage
The Bad Dad
1 Samuel 2:12-2:36
The Faithful Father