Friday, 19 September 2008

Family Life

Watching Simon and Jane, friends from our last church, in the first episode of Channel 4's "The Family" this week, was both enjoyable - Simon always raises a smile - and remarkably enlightening. People and the press may like discussing the rows and the angst, but more than anything it got me thinking about how easily we can avoid honesty outside the home. How often have we turned up to church on a Sunday wearing a mask? We could have had a blazing barney with the missus in the car just five minutes before arriving, then bounding into the church hall with Bible in situ and a twinkling smile for our chums... It happens...

I'm not for one minute suggesting we all wear glum faces at church, nor "airing our laundry in public" simply for the sake of it either - let's exercise some wisdom here! -but the reality is that without true honesty amongst us, genuine community will not develop amongst God's people, and a truthful witness will not be portrayed. The best opportunities Jennie and I have had in discipling others - and also in sharing our faith with friends outside of church too - have not been in the once-a-week coffees (which are still worthwhile, of course) but in sharing our home with others at dinner time, at Amy's bed time, when we're ill, etc. It opens up a whole other realm of honesty... It's easy to throw out glib "never let the sun go down on an argument" idioms over a mid-week coffee, but if your spouse doesn't wish to talk and goes to sleep instead, then that argument will still be hovering over your Crunchy Nut Cornflakes (TM) in the morning, despite the wisdom of Paul's words (Eph 4.26). Watching Jennie and I as we deal with Amy throwing a wobbler, or having 'words' and then making up, or responding to disappointment, allows for far greater integrity on our behalf (hopefully!) and the chance for friends to genuinely learn from us and vice versa. We don't always get it right, but how we then deal with that boo-boo is in itself a chance for more of the same.

What the Hughes family have done is incredibly brave (I tip my hat to you guys) and I trust that the reality of family life as God intended - a real, honest learning curve based on His values - is portrayed in the public eye and consequent debate. May our own family life, and the sharing of it, do exactly the same.

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