June 30, 2010

Grace and Family in 
a Fractured World

By Sang Lae KimcapAfter Creation, God said, It is good. After creating Adam, a “house” was prepared, but there was no “home.” The house—Eden—was just an empty space without a home. “Without companionship the beautiful scenes and delightful employments of Eden would have failed to yield perfect happiness,” said Ellen G. White (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 46). Creation was complete only when there was a happy home, which was its final result and a gift of grace from the Creator.

2010 1522 page18Redemption is the restoration of the original order of creation. And the completion of redemption is the restoration of a “happy home.” If God’s people must experience one thing to truly understand the pleasure of redemption, it is a happy home life.

God’s love is expressed through the family. This means not only that our relationship with the Lord represents a family relationship, but that our family relationship ought to represent our relationship with the Lord.

Not long ago, a fellow pastor suffered a heart attack. Fortunately, he was taken to the hospital in time, and his life was saved. We could never survive without our heart.

What is the heart of our society, church, and nation? Ellen White says: “The heart of the community, of the church, and of the nation is the household” (The Ministry of Healing, p.  349). Therefore, the family is the main target of Satan’s attacks—a pointed battle waged on the heart of our church and society. Relationships between husbands and wives, parents and children, brothers and sisters are falling to ruin.

Family Troubles: Common ?Universal Phenomenon   
Family troubles are not new. Adam and Eve blamed each other, saying the other one was responsible for their sin. Abraham suffered because of the conflict between his two wives. Isaac and Rebekah deceived each other, and Jacob lived an unhappy life because of troubles among his sons. Stories like these exist throughout the Bible. Therefore, it is no surprise to see the same kind of family conflicts happening today.

GC link devotionalsConflicts occur even in marriages of devotion and faith. Look at Isaac. Isaac truly loved Rebekah (Gen. 24:67). The couple faithfully prayed together for 20 years and, eventually, were blessed with twins. However, in Genesis 27 we discover something unexpected. There we see all the members of the family distrusting and deceiving each other.

It is astonishing to see how Isaac and Rebekah’s family could experience such a collapse of trust. How could such a devoted family become ruined? Isaac’s family is presented as ideal in the Bible, and yet they too had difficulties. Indeed, family troubles occur in and out of a biblical setting.

Causes for Family Troubles
Family problems tend to come from two areas, internal and external. The primary internal factor is a weakening of unity. On an external level, we look to the infiltration of secularism.

Satan cannot penetrate a family that has strong family ties. If the family is bound strongly together with the principle of love working through the grace of God, they will be an unconquerable fortress. But if that bond is eroded, Satan gains the advantage.

Secularism has always been the primary cause of trouble in families of faith. If someone in the family becomes too secular, a family’s spiritual peace can be destroyed. Esau was not just a tough wild man—and a bold, adventurous person is not necessarily secular. Esau’s problem did not lie in his personal character, but in his sense of values. At the root of his heart he did not respect spiritual matters (Gen. 25:34). His secular view of values resulted in selling his birthright and in his choice to marry two Hittite women (Gen. 26:34). Ellen White explains: “Ever subject to mere outward and earthly attractions, Esau took two wives of the daughters of Heth” (Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 179). They became “a grief of mind” to the family (Gen. 26:35, KJV).

The Principle of Togetherness
What can we do to save our families? There are numerous ways to protect family happiness. However, I believe that one biblical principle covers all the advice in the world. That principle is found by looking at the negative reason why our first ancestors lost happiness in their family.

2010 1522 page18How did Adam and Eve’s family become so unhappy? When did Satan get his chance to destroy the first family? When they were not together. The moment they were not together, Satan moved in.

This teaches us an important lesson. Families stay together in God.

Happiness in a family is preserved and developed when its members are together. Paul admonished, “Come together again” (1 Cor. 7:5). Families are people who live together, sleep together, laugh together, and cry together.

Love in marriage is about being together. This is also important for our children. For when parents pray and praise together with their children, true education is achieved. Families need togetherness to be happy.

The main reason Isaac’s family became unhappy was also because of separation. At the decisive moment of blessing Esau, Isaac decided to do it himself. When Rebekah overheard what Isaac said to Esau, she planned a solution by herself. This shows that their hearts had been separate for a long time. We need to be together with our family in order to understand them, to comfort them, and talk with them. There is no better way to protect our family’s happiness than by being together.

Conclusion and Appeal
The family unit is a gift of grace from God. We must remember that just as we have to take care of our health while we are healthy, we have to protect our happiness while we have it. Stand firm with the principle of love and don’t forget the principle of togetherness.

When a family is breaking down, we must lean on God, for there we find healing and restoration. Although Isaac had lost his spiritual discernment by favoring Esau, his first priority was still God. Isaac loved Esau but he was also grieved as was Rebekah because of the influence brought into the family through Esau’s Hittite wives. It is very important that even if some family members make different decisions in their lives, their loyalty toward God must not waver. Even if seeds of conflict develop in the family, we must all cling to God.

Go to a beach and look at the rocks on the seashore. You will find many different shells clinging to the rocks. You will probably find limpets, with their small and sticky feet. When a wave hits or they are touched, they quickly cling to the rock, and once they attach themselves, they are very hard to detach. Be like limpets. For when waves pound our families, we need to plant our feet firmly on the Rock of salvation—Jesus Christ.

Family is indeed a gift from God. May Adventist homes live in the light of God’s grace, so that all our families may become families without shadows. Families must be happy. And the key to happiness is living in God’s grace together.

Sang Lae Kim, pastor and professor in the Department of Theology, Sahmyook University, Seoul, Korea.