I came across this week's "thought" in Gary Thomas book "Pure Pleasure."
It speaks of the joy parents should have in raising sinful kids, or spouses should have in loving their sinful spouse. Yes, that right - sinful kids and a sinful spouse. I'll let him explain! Enjoy.
"I have participated in more small groups than I can count. During the initial 'life story' testimony each time, each participant, without exception, describes moments of tragedy, weakness, sin and brokenness, met finally by the strong redeeming grace of Christ. At the end of these exercises, I am in awe of the pain everyone has felt and oftentimes caused.
And yet parents still manage to seem genuinely surprised when sin and 'common weaknesses' manifest themselves in their children. Spouses seem shocked when partners stumble in any number of ways. Though a world population rapidly approaching seven billion people proves that not one of us has ever reached moral perfection -- that, in fact, few could even claim to have reached moral excellence -- we resent each other for falling short of perfection and even begin to define each other by our sin.
This lack of graciousness demeans the sacrifice of the cross and stops celebration cold. The only chance we have for joy as fallen people living in a fallen world is the gospel of the cross and its corresponding truths of forgiveness and grace. Sadly, however, many Christian homes become places of judgment, accusation, and pronounced disappointment.
Here's the stark reality: If you can't love, celebrate, and enjoy raising a sinful kid, then you can't love, celebrate, and enjoy any child. If you can't love and play with a sinful spouse, then you'll never be able to take pleasure in any spouse, for the simple reason that you can't find any sinless kids or spouses. Let's not allow sin and our universal brokenness to stop our play, cease our celebration, or impair our ability to take pleasure in the company of each other."
His words are so true! We do seem more accepting of others sins and flaws, and show more grace and love to complete strangers, than we do to our own spouses and children. Of course, that may be because (as the old adage to states): "We don't have to live with them!"
Those across town don't disrupt our times of quiet with needless noise, wake us early or keep us up late, add stress to our already busy schedules through irresponsibility, disrespect us in the confines of our own home, rebel against house rules, do the same thing we asked them not to do for the umpteenth time(!), and so forth and so on. Yes, it seems its easier to accept that people are sinners when we don't have to live with them 24/7!
Yet Mr. Thomas is right: We really haven't learned to be gracious or loving until we can love the sinners in our own homes -- those we married or those who inherited our sin-tainted genes.
What he said deserves repeating: "If you can't love, celebrate, and enjoy raising a sinful kid, then you can't love, celebrate, and enjoy any child. If you can't love and play with a sinful spouse, then you'll never be able to take pleasure in any spouse, for the simple reason that you can't find any sinless kids or spouses."
We must either learn to celebrate, enjoy and love sinners, or find ourselves very, very lonely and disgruntled people -- people who are unable to even enjoy anything about ourselves, since we fall into that same category of imperfect sinners. In Christ God loves us, rejoices in us and even delights in us -- despite our flaws. We would do well to learn from His example.
With you in the fight to love as we should, Pastor Jeff