Building Christian Homes
“Building Christian Homes” by L. Nelson Bell is reprinted by permission. Copyright 1972 by Christianity Today. How timely this article is when marriage breakdowns are so prevalent around us!
Christian Homes do not just happen. They are built by Christian men and women who sense something of the beauty, the wonder, and responsibilities involved.
After the Creation the home was the first institution established in the divine economy. Since that time it has been the central unit of the social order.
In Japan one sees dwarf trees, many of them representing birds, animals, and even works of art. They are living trees, dwarfed by a secret process, and their formations are determined by careful bending and pruning during the growing years. Similarly in the home the lives of tomorrow’s citizens are molded and trained. In very large measure the character of the home determines the character of the nation.
When Hitler’s forces threatened the shores of England, Winston Churchill, that sturdy old warrior and incarnation of the Britain that was, announced to his people: “I have nothing to offer you but blood, sweat and tears.” Building a Christian home can prove to be a battle, for Satan hates and fights against the efforts of those who try to establish one. Only consecrated parents know the blood and sweat and tears involved — the hard work, courage, steadfastness, sleepless hours, wrestling in prayer. But they do not work alone.
A Christian home means first of all that Christ is the Lord of the home and that he has pre-eminence in the lives of those who live there.
Immediately after entering Westminster Abbey one notes the tomb of David Livingstone, located in a conspicuous place of honour by a nation that recognized his greatness and the contribution he has made in opening a continent for Christ. What kind of a home did Livingstone come from? A biographer writes:
The home in which David Livingstone grew up was a bright and happy, and presented a remarkable example of domestic virtues. It was ruled by an industry that never lost an hour of the six days, and that welcomed and honored the day of rest; a thrift that made the most of everything, though it never got beyond the necessities of life; a self-reliant that admitted no stimulants within the door, and that faced bravely and steadily all the burdens of life; a love of a cultivated taste, with the fear of God that dignified the life which it molded and controlled.
Since that time great changes have taken place. No one would care to return to the vigorous living of even a century ago, but we should never forget that the marvelous gadgets that are a part of most houses today cannot of themselves make that house a home. The spiritual and moral values that make men and nations great are to be found within those persons who turn to God for his divine blessing and help. Such values are an integral part of the Christian home.
In the Old Testament we read that the patriarchs “pitched their tents, digged a well, and built an altar.” Today how many there are who pitch their tents and dig their wells but make no provision for the spirit! The altar is never built.
A house is built with materials— brick, stone, wood, plaster. It is made with things and furnished with things. A Christian home is built with faith in God — with love, unselfishness, consideration, patience, prayer, work, and praise. It may be very humble; it may be a mansion.
Training children is one of the greatest human privileges and responsibilities, and Christians must never forget that no child has been trained properly until Christ is pre-eminent in his or her heart.
Christian training of children is a responsibility that cannot be faced too soon. Some time ago a woman asked a psychologist: “When should I start training my child?” “How old is he?” she was asked. “Five,” she replied. The psychologist said, “Madam, hurry home. You have already lost five years.”
Many think pre-schoolers are too young for instruction about the things of God. However, those who have tried it know that little ones listen avidly to well told Bible stories and absorb their implications, and that God and his Son can become wonderfully real to them.
In a Christian home probably the greatest single influence on children is a realization that their parents want them to know Christ more than anything else in this world, and set such an example in their own lives. If Christ is given a secondary place in lives of parents and in their ambitions for their children, the children know it. No amount of talk can erase from their minds the fact that Christ is not first.
A Christian home should be the happiest place in the world. There one should find the right perspective toward life. Interesting books, carefully selected for adventure, instruction, and cultural value, should be in the bookcase. Games, with the parents joining with their children in the fun, should form part of the home life. Young friends should be made welcome. Profitable amusements can well be found away from the TV or outside influences.
The family altar, with daily prayer and Bible reading, is one place where children learn the difference between temporal and spiritual values. Paul, writing to Timothy, said: “From a child thou has known the holy Scriptures which are able to make thee wise unto salvation.” Happy are those children whose parents have done as much for them.
A Christian home is held together by the cement of love — love of God, of each other, of other people.
A man observed a snake taking baby birds from a nest while the mother bird frantically tried to drive it away. The nest was across a stream where the observer could not render assistance, and he could only say: “Oh mother, you built your nest too low.”
Only Christian homes are built high enough to protect all concerned. Only those homes where God is given his rightful place can qualify for his promised protection.