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How to Create a Truly Christian Home
What Makes A Christian Home
What makes a home, a Christian home? We could ask the same question about a great many things that we label Christian: What makes music, Christian music? What makes literature, Christian literature? What makes a movie, a Christian movie? What makes an organization, a Christian organization? Is it simply that there are Christians involved, or must there be something more for us to accurately label something, be it a group of people, and activity, or an idea, Christian?
Everything that a believer does ought to be done to the glory of God; it ought to be appropriate, edifying, and skillful. Even so, there is something different between working or creating as a Christian, as in a Christian manner, and talking of that work being accurately labeled Christian.
Christian music is more than just music sung by Christians, or that has general Christian themes; it is music that is set apart, designed in every way for the edification of the Church and first and foremost for the worship of God. In the same way, a Christian home is not merely a group of believers living under one roof, it is a home that is set apart for the training of each generation in the fear and admonition of the Lord, where the main drive of family life is the worship of God. In short, a Christian home is a home that is centered on Christ.
A Christian home is a home that doesn’t just refrain from the kind of worldliness and idolatries of those around us, as though by refraining from worshiping false gods we can say that we have properly worshiped the true God. A Christian home actively partakes in the worship of God; in its walls is regularly heard the wonders and works of God; the Gospel is believed, trusted in, spoken often, and applied to all of life’s many adventures. A Christian home looks to the Word of God for direction and wisdom. A Christian home considers the spiritual effects of decisions made, not just the financial effects. A Christian prioritizes the condition of one’s soul and our faithfulness to God.
Must We Have A Christian Home?
Sure, that all sounds nice; but is it necessary? Is a truly Christian home something that all believers ought to aspire to and diligently labor after, or is it just a nice idea or for those "elite" Christians; are the principles central within something that we should just consider when it is convenient, or the cost is not too high? For something that all-encompassing, that exhausting sounding, do we find a mandate in Scripture to justify such a labor in our homes?
James Alexander wrote that:
“There are some duties so plain, that they are rather assumed, than commanded, in the Word of God; and the number of such is greater than might be supposed on a superficial examination. This is especially true of those duties which belong to the family-relation; as for example those of the mother to her babe. They are subjected to regulation, and are objects of frequent allusion; but are not incorporated into the law of commandments. We are not to wonder, therefore, if we find, even in the New Testament, no separate and explicit to worship God in the family; as little do we find any command to pray when we preach the word, or when death has visited our dwellings. These are things which it was safe to leave with the pious sentiment of Christians: and yet they are not the less characteristic of good men, no less universal in the church.”
Does the Bible direct us to have Christ-centered, Christian homes? We won’t find the kind of explicit, detailed, instructions that we might hope for in regard to creating a Christian home, but we do have a bounty of commands, allusions, and applicable principles given in Scripture to understand the need for, and importance of, having a Christian home in the truest sense of the phrase.
Deuteronomy 6:1–9 (ESV)
“Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey. “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
God commanded Israel to have godly homes; they were to have homes that were centered on the worship of God and the training of each generation in the ways and the works of God. When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment is, He responded by quoting verse 4 of Deuteronomy 6 (Matthew 12:29-30). The greatest purpose of man is to love the Lord our God with all that we have and all that we are. The context of Deuteronomy 6 clearly puts that in a family environment. We not only get the commandment, but we see that it for each successive generation; that God’s people might walk faithfully before Him.
Psalm 78:1–8 (ESV)
Give ear, O my people, to my teaching; incline your ears to the words of my mouth! I will open my mouth in a parable; I will utter dark sayings from of old, things that we have heard and known, that our fathers have told us. We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord, and his might, and the wonders that he has done. He established a testimony in Jacob and appointed a law in Israel, which he commanded our fathers to teach to their children, that the next generation might know them, the children yet unborn, and arise and tell them to their children, so that they should set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments; and that they should not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation whose heart was not steadfast, whose spirit was not faithful to God.
In this passage we see the importance of relaying the story of what God has done. We recount the wondrous works of God so that our families might place their hope in God and keep His commandments. When we tell of what God has done, we both encourage faith according to His mercy and grace and instill fear toward all that may be tempted to forget His ways and walk away in stubbornness and rebellion.
We recount the wondrous works of God because it is not just the story of Abraham, or of Jacob, or David, or Peter; we recount His wondrous works because it is our story.
This Is Your Story Too
Jason Helopoulos wrote in response to this Psalm:
“We are teaching that which has been handed down among believers for centuries. In reality, we are telling the story that has been told among faithful believers since the beginning of time. We are in a long line going all the way back to Adam: a line of faithful people who are telling the redemptive story – the story. This story is the one contained in the Scriptures; it is the factual story of God and His glorious deeds...We are in a long line of saints from Adam to Noah to Jacob to Joseph to Nehemiah to John the Baptist to the Apostle Paul. As Christians, we want this story to continue through generations of our family to the glory of God. Do you see yourselves as key figures in the redemptive story? …do you understand that God continues to call and use us in His service for extending of His kingdom on earth – for His glory…if we understand the importance of what has been handed down to us then we cannot keep it to ourselves. We must share it."
Let that sink in for a moment. If we are in Christ, we are a part of a redemptive story that goes all the way back to the garden of Eden; we are part of the story, God reconciling man to Himself.
In his letter to the Ephesians (Eph. 5:22-6:9), Paul exhorted wives and husbands to model their behavior toward each other in accordance with the Gospel; wives submit to their husbands as the church submits to Christ, even as husbands sacrificially love their wives, and work toward their sanctification, as Christ purified the church and gave Himself for her. He then went on to commend children to obey their parents, as in service to God and obedience to His commandments, as well as fathers to bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
For the believer, a Christian home, a home that is centered on Christ, is not optional. The nature of God, His wondrous ways and works; the Gospel that is the power of God for our salvation, must be at the very center of our homes, our family lives. It is for our good; it is for the good of our marriages; it is for the good of our children and our children’s children. It is for the glory of God who is worthy of worship and adoration; from us and from every generation before us and after us.
Are you familiar with the practice of family worship? If you are not familiar with this historic Christian practice, we recommend you listen to our recent podcast or read our recent article on this subject.
In Genesis 18, when God was about to destroy Sodom, we read:
The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”
Part of God’s purpose in calling Abraham from the pagan and idolatrous land and family he came from was so that he would learn the ways of God himself, and train up his household. How would he accomplish this but through something very similar to the practice of family worship?
We have grown so accustomed to counting on events or programs put on by the church to teach and train our children in the ways of God. We forget that those means were not available to the vast majority of believers throughout history nor are they available now around the world. God never gave this role to the Church, but it is parents that are charged with training their children in the ways of the Lord. It is not something that we can outsource.
How did the ways of God and the worship of God get passed on generation to generation throughout history? Families gathered together to recount the works of God, to read from the written Word of God when it was available, to pray to God, and to sings songs of worship to God. If you think about it, what other way could there be, especially when there was no real way for families to regularly join with other believers under the ministry of spiritual shepherds in congregational worship.
Is Family Worship Important?
It can easily be established that it has been the common practice of godly families going back to Abraham, to gather to read (or recount the stories of what God has done), pray, and sing; to worship God in the home. But we must ask, is this important for us today?
I think the reason family worship in some form has always been a part of the believing family, and why I believe it ought to be a characteristic of our homes, is that there is no better way to have a Christian home, a home that is centered on Christ, than to gather regularly to read the Word of God, to pray to God, and to sings songs of worship to God.
Don Whitney wrote:
Bringing children up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” does not happen only unintentionally and incidentally….Without some regularity, structure, and purpose, bringing our children up “in the discipline and instruction of the Lord” is one of those things we can assume we are doing but never actually do as well as we might thing. Consistent, father-led family worship is one of the best, steadiest, and most easily measurable ways to bring up children in the Lord’s “discipline and instruction.”
Is the care of our own soul and the care of the souls of our families something that we want to just assume or hope are being well cared for? Can we afford to contract out the shepherding of the hearts and minds of those we care about more than anyone else on this earth?
C. H. Spurgeon said,
“I fear there is such a neglect of family worship that it’s not probable that the children are at all impressed by any piety supposed to be possessed by their parents.”
What priorities do we want to foster in our lives? What priorities do we want to hand down to the next generation? What structures do we want to spend ourselves building? How better can we labor to build the Kingdom of God than to make our homes a center of worship, and discipleship? What area of your life, or the lives of your children, do you want to not be centered on the cause of Christ?
It all begins in the home.
Episode 8: How To Build A Godly Home
Many Christians want to have a godly home, but don't know where to start. In Episode 8 of the Reformed Faith and Family Podcast, we are discussing how to build a godly home. You will find this episode full of practical advice on decision making and more for any individual or family seeking to pursue God's will for their lives. We pray it is a blessing to you.
Like what you see? Read more!
Caleb Stomberg is husband to Lindsey and father to their seven children. He is pastor at Legacy Reformed Baptist Church in East Grand Forks, MN. Caleb enjoys woodworking, hunting, and anything Tolkien.