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Your Family: A Community of Love

Roach Family 2013

The poison of modern individualism has seeped into our families and churches and is making both very sick. This popular way of being and acting in the world as individuals is radically opposed to the communal way of being and acting which originates in the Godhead, flows throughout scripture and was taught and modeled by Jesus and the early church. Seeing our family as a whole rather than a collection of individuals radically altered the way my wife and I thought and acted as parents.

Our primary concern shifted from trying to raise four individual children to responding to the Spirit who is bent on fashioning us into a community of love. We came to see our role as parents as being bigger than trying to raise children. We saw it as our job to nurture a family that would be known and marked by love. A good basketball coach is not primarily concerned with developing talented individuals but the development of a team that plays well together.

Practically, this meant that rather than an exclusive “divide and conquer” approach where one parent focuses on one child and the other parent on another child, we were going to do as much as possible as a family. This may not seem as efficient, but then again it all depends on what you are after. If you want to grow in your ability to be known and marked by love, you have to spend time together. This approach required us to limit the amount of activities our children were involved in. A family can only do so much. It is imperative for a family to know and live within its limits. We must think carefully and choose courageously when it comes to deciding how much time, money and energy we are going to give to our children’s activities. If the members of your family are each going different directions most nights of the week, it is going to be very difficult to be of one heart and mind.

We have taken several cross-country vacations as a family. Our routine came to involve driving 10-12 hours one day before stopping for the night and getting up the next morning to drive the second leg of our 20+ hour trip. When we took these trips we intentionally did not provide individual electronic devices for each of our kids. To us this seemed to promote separation rather than unity and taught selfishness rather than sacrificial love. Instead we’d take the time (something we had a lot of) to decide as a family what radio station to listen to or what movie to watch on the DVD player.  Through experiences like these we all learned to give. We learned to receive. We learned to share. We learned to wait. We were practicing love. Another tradition for these long road trips was to purchase a book that my wife would read out loud. Who knew Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was the perfect length for a trip to San Francisco and back? Or how about deciding where to stop and eat? Trying to land on a place where everyone is “happy” can be more difficult than solving the Rubik’s Cube. There were times when it seemed like it would be easier to go to two or three fast food joints so everyone could get what they wanted, but we resisted this urge. We saw value in working through our differences, learning to make sacrifices for our brothers and sisters and enjoying a meal together. Taking our kids to cheer each other on at soccer games, wrestling meets, vocal concerts, dance recitals and cheerleading events has also been very important and shaping for our family. The presence of our kids at each other’s activities has communicated something deeply important that words alone never could. Presence communicates, “I see and hear you. You are important, your life matters to us.” Our children have grown up knowing they belong to each other. They are part of a larger story.

One other thing my wife and I came to notice was that our children naturally became mentors in each other’s lives. I’ll never forget the evening I walked into Sophie’s room and there was her older sister, Haley reading her Bible stories before tucking her into bed. Upon thinking about this more it made sense. Haley had learned this from her older sister, Megan. I cannot begin to count the number of times I have heard our kids go to each other for advice, especially when it comes to handling relationships. Haley and Logan became best friends after a year of driving to and from school together. When Megan came home from college she was eager to go buy Sophie her favorite lunch and share it with her in the school cafeteria.

On our own there is no way Lea Ann and I could do for our kids what they have learned to do for each other. We all have a part to play as a family. We are a family learning we are loved and sharing that love with one another. I am convinced Logan and Sophie owe a huge part of their maturity in Christ to Megan and Haley and vice versa.

As we place more emphasis on the whole family rather than individuals we discover that the family as a community of love is shaping each of us into increasing Christ-likeness.

For further reflection:

  • Imagine your family as a “community of love.” What might that look like? Sound like? Feel like?
  • What is the greatest obstacle preventing the Holy Spirit from fashioning your family into a community known and marked by love?
  • What is one thing you can begin doing differently that may help your family blossom in its love?
  • Is there any danger of neglecting individual needs in the pursuit of the common good of the family?
  • What from popular culture is helping your family love one another?  What from popular culture seems to be making it harder to love one another?



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