Musing on 2 Peter & Jude, Part 6: Applying Church Lessons to the Family
Some sins we engage in harm ourselves. Some harm others. A shepherd has an enormous potential, either to harm or to benefit the sheep. So does a parent. God takes this very seriously.
These two letters detail the sins of deceptive pseudo-shepherds, scoffers, and false teachers who cause doubt. These pervert God’s grace into license, leading people into spiritual blindness and provoking a forgetfulness about the cleansing power of Christ’s blood.
It would have been better for these harmful leaders if they’d never heard the gospel for which they are now accountable. Likewise, Jesus said if any of us cause a little one to stumble, it’s a crime worthy of being hurled into the sea with a millstone about our necks.
As I apply these letters personally, I am mindful of my many parental-shepherd failures. When we parents, by our hypocrisy, temper, favoritism, or sarcasm, cause our little flock to stumble, we tread on treacherous ground.
Why do we sin like this? Broken people come from broken families, sinful ways learned and hard hearts passed down. I am not a perfect mother; I did not have a perfect mother. You are not a perfect mother, either. I yell at my kids. I’m not always nice. I am often unloving. Every family is broken, since Adam and Eve’s. Each family is peopled with sinners sinning in sinful ways.
We often don’t even know our family patterns are sinful. This is why God inspired the Scripture writers to tell us what is right and what is wrong. We need it made clear, as it is in these letters regarding false-shepherds in the church.
This is life on the planet. We all miss the mark. We are all broken.
God is grieved when we sin in ways that harm ourselves, and he is the avenger when we sin in ways that harm others, especially those under our care. He sees everything. Nothing is hidden.
The good news is that no sin is too great for God to forgive. No sin. He is willing and able to forgive all sins, even the ones that harm the ones we love, even the sins we cry over in the night. The only sin that goes unforgiven is disbelief in him.
God loves us so much that he gave his Son. Whoever believes in him can be forgiven. Even in the midst of our messiness, he came to forgive sins and to grant life. (John 3:16-21)
When we place our faith in Christ and ask for his forgiveness, God expunges our sins and empowers us to mend and reconcile our broken relationships. He changes our lives.
Gradually, step by step, we are transformed. Some changes are dramatic and immediate. Others take a very long time, particularly those we were born and bred into. The walk is often long and hard. Growth requires effort. (2 Peter 1:5-8)
Both letters say we must be guided and infused by the Holy Spirit, God’s divine power within. When we strive to be steadfast in God’s love, we are consistent. God’s love is shown by our benevolent words and actions. This is good shepherding and growing faith.
Our mending must begin within our own families. When we see our flock stumbling, we must reflect on whether we’ve contributed. Is the millstone about our necks? As parents, we initiate reconciliation through our humility about our failings.
In our family, we call teenagers the hypocrisy police. We’ve had teens living in our home for almost twenty-three years. They see our inconsistencies and enable us to see ourselves rightly, sometimes through tears. We listen to them and to our adult children.
We confess. We ask forgiveness. We change.
This is how we “contend for the faith” that was entrusted to us as God’s holy people (Jude 3). We believe it. We live it out. We demonstrate the mercy and love of God. Christ died to save sinners like us. A transformed and loving life allows us to tell our children and others. This is our life purpose. For this we were made.
How are you living out your faith at home?
Most photos all licensed from Creative Commons. Crown of thorns: purchased iStock Photo.com image.