When we think of building a house, we think in terms. of design and architecture, of brick and mortar, of wood and nails, of plumbing and lighting, of carpeting and furnishings. These are some of the ingredients which go into the building of a house. But, because we want to make a house a home, and a home that is a Christian institution, there are some more important ingredients involved.
The Master Builder
The reason for the decay of the home as a Christian institution is that we lose sight of the principle taught in the Holy Bible that Jehovah God must be the Master Builder. God is greatly interested in the home. The first thing he made after creation is the institution of the home. He still wants to be the Supreme Builder, the Master Architect of the home. Man did not invent this institution. His genius did not hit upon this idea. Much less is it the product of an evolutionary process in a growing experience of man. When God built the life of the first man and the first woman into the first home, he was really perfecting the creation of man socially in his divine image. The complete image is not reached in the individual. In the complete image, Adam needed Eve, and Eve needed Adam.
The basic trouble with human beings is that they have lost sight of the divine pattern of the home. Man has divorced the home from its heavenly origin and atmosphere. It has been made mundane and secular. We have lost the vertical outlook and have narrowed it to an horizontal gaze. Our home view disappears in the cemetery. In our defection, instead of making the home a patch of heaven we make it a hit of the world. The home no longer has enough windows that show the heavenlies. The poet, in Psalm 127, saw this too when he said, “Except Jehovah build the house, they labor in vain that build it.” Man’s efforts are vain, if God is left out. But the inspired poet did not say, because the Lord builds, they labor in vain that build. But he said, if the Lord does not build, they labor in vain that build. As redeemed ones we are called to be co-laborers. This demands spiritual consecration and cooperation in God’s program. God must have his way, but he must have his way through our energetic and enthusiastic endeavor.
A solid foundation is needed. The chief ingredient in building sound foundations is God’s Redemptive Program. To make foundation material out of anything but strong and firm concrete is folly. In building foundations for Christian homes out of any other material than God’s saving program is even more foolish. The foundations of pharisaical formalism, of work righteousness, of mere Sunday religion, will cause the crumbling of homes into ruin. What is needed for a sound and solid foundation is a spiritual, personal, and sincere relationship to God in Christ, plus a consciousness that such a relationship must be joint, in which father, mother and children all are involved.
The structure of the Christian home has for its building material a grateful response to God, a loyal and respectful obedience to the Lord, and a continued and earnest prayerfulness. The home is not held together by good meals, comfortable beds, adequate pay-check, or a color TV set. The Christian home is held together by thankful devotion to God, by respectful loyalty to his law which demands that we love him and one another. The aids of joint reading of the Bible and of praying together are indispensable. The discipline of God’s law must be ever present.
The purpose of such an institution is Kingdom building. Our homes are not meant to be jumping off places for gadding about. Our homes must serve the purpose of building lives for Christian service.
There are troubles that plague our homes today. Many of these dangers come in the form of altogether legitimate activities, but they frequently crowd out the essential features of a Christian home. Too often the family altar is limited in its expression simply because the members of the family are too busy or because their schedule is too tight. We have seen an increase in activity in our churches and schools. Much of this has been wholesome. But all too often a competition is created between home loyalties and activities and those of the church and school projects. We ought to be enthusiastic about keeping busy, especially in having sufficient opportunity for the mental, spiritual, and social development of our children. But when activities take parents out of the home too frequently, or when these projects are more important in our children’s estimation, then the time has come to call a halt. Each home must have its own activities in which only the members of that family are involved. These should knit the members of the household into a solid unit. Besides, there is the problem of materialism. Values are distorted. Luxuries are thought to be necessities, Love for the kingly life may very well be a cancer that is eating away the basic foundations of our homes, As parents we are inclined to measure the success of our homes upon the basis of the beauty of the house or its location in a neighborhood of upper-class people. Children, like parents, begin to look down their noses upon those who do not wear cashmere sweaters. The abundant life frequently becomes a life where the spiritual streams grow shallow.
Another slippery spot on the road of home building is the entertainment problem. That flood of entertainment which streams into our houses seems at times to engulf the Christian institution of the home. Our heroes are no longer those listed in Hebrews 11. They have become the false hemes of show business. The distinctiveness of the Scriptures which teaches that there is no other name given under heaven whereby men can be saved is shelved for the “lone ranger” religion which teaches that there are many roads which lead to God, The calf-worship of Jeroboam, which taught another approach to God than the spiritual one, led to the Baal worship of Ahab, which taught that there were other gods. So too, we may expect that the emphasis today which teaches that there are other ways to God than through Christ, God’s Son, wiII eventually lead to the rearing of a generation which worships other gods. Then too, the acceptance of immorality in the entertainment world, if not curbed, will lead to that same acceptance by the rising generation.
The number of the dangers is legion. These serve merely as suggestions for us to analyze our own homes, God must be the Master Builder; we must be His faithful helpers. We must build homes according to the blueprint given in his Word, This can be done only by being victorious, in his grace, over the temptations that are present.
If the home is saved, the Church, the school, and society arc safe. If the foundations crumble, all is lost. Let no one dare to be complacent at this point. Even for many professedly Christian people the question is no longer one of strengthening the home. The disturbing question is rather this: In how far have we lost Our home? We must meet such questions head-on; we may not dodge them, Is our home the spiritual empire that it ought to be? Or is our home a loose combination of a motel, a sandwich shop, and a miniature theater? Let each parent take a little time for an honest evaluation of his home. Many will get on their knees and pray for pardon of their slothfulness and blindness, and for new strength and determination to do a better building job.