I loathe the phrase “broken home.” When I tell people of my family history, of the divorce of my parents, I hear people say “It must be hard to come from a broken home” or “I didn’t know you were from a broken home.” My ears and soul hear that this way “I didn’t know you’re messed up than me” and “There must be something wrong with you.” I know that’s not the intention, but that’s how it comes across.
I also get down right frustrated (may I even say ticked, chaffed, and cheesed) at those who say that the problem with society today is the breakdown of the traditional family. I’ve heard this a number of times, sadly from an older generation who sit in the pews. When I hear this being said from those who grew up with a family around them, have their kids and grandkids living near by, I grit my teeth. It is as if to say that we have the right answer and it’s to be just like us.
A few years back, I was at a meeting of churches to discuss how we can do ministry in our churches and communities. We talked about how we can address issues that our communities face. One elderly white haired gentleman sitting in front of me said very loudly and assuredly that it was the breakdown of the traditional family that was causing all these problems. If people just treated marriage properly, had kids properly, and fathers acted like fathers, then we wouldn’t have all these social ills.
I raised my hand and said very loudly and assuredly “Bullocks.” I actually meant another word that begins with B but I’m not typing it here. I then stated that if it is the lack of people being parents and a lack of fathers sticking around, then step up and be a mentor to them.
It’s one thing to point out what you think might be the problem, it’s another to step forward and live the solution. I know it can be done. I know it is effective. Why? Because that’s what a group of Godly men did in my life (blogged about it here).
People are good at bemoaning things, especially in the church. Things have changed. The world is different. The center cannot hold (no clue what that means, but it sounds all philosophical and cool). And the church needs to step up. If we see a need to tend to families who are in need, then as followers of Jesus, we need to step up and fill in the gaps.
If there is no father present in the home and a mother working her fingers to the bone to make ends meet, step up. Be a help. Babysit. Help with groceries. More importantly, be a mentor, men. Be willing to help be a Godly male influence in their lives. The same with women. Be willing to be a Godly female influence in the lives of young women. Don’t just sit there complaining, get off your frakin’ duff and do something.
Paul mentored Timothy. Timothy was raised by his mom and grandmother. Paul came along side Timothy as was like a father to him, mentoring him, helping him grow in his faith and understanding. Not just that, but Paul empowered Timothy to be a good, strong leader.
When Jesus was told that his family was looking for Him, he said that those around Him were His sisters and brothers and mothers. In Jesus, we are able to come to God as Father. Not just that, but call him daddy (Paul uses the childlike familial Aramaic word “abba” in reference to God which is translated as “daddy”). Throughout the Book of Acts, all of Paul’s letters, heck, in Peter’s and John’s letters, the people of God are called the family of God. They are called brothers and sisters.
There is family to be had in the church.
But is the church willing to be family?
In the 2002 Disney movie Lilo and Stitch, the alien creature Stitch says it best about family, twice.
and then he says this:
We’re all broken in one way or another. We’re all messed up one way or another. To single out one set of people as being from a “broken home” while you yourself are part of a family of broken people doesn’t help. In our brokenness, we can all come together and be the family God wants us to be. A group of people called and cleansed and made complete through Jesus, still broken but whole together.
Take time not to bemoan the state of society today and the disintegration of what one might think to be the traditional family structure. Instead, step forward, be the love of Jesus to someone, fill the gap and be ready to welcome others into the family of God and be willing to mentor them. Fill the gap.