There is an element in the church at large today that speaks much of the issue of brokenness without at the same time emphasising the gospel as the hope to fix that which is broken. The result is either hopeless passivity, whereby we make no effort to fix that which is broken, or a perverse acceptance of brokenness, whereby sin and its consequences do not bother us.
In our recent studies in Leviticus 13—14, we have spent a good deal of time focusing on the issue of brokenness. The leprosy laws given in those chapters point to the reality of living in a broken world, but they also highlight the truth that brokenness can be fixed.
We have considered the truth that God is able to—and intends to—fix a broken world, and that the God-ordained solution for brokenness is the gospel. To be sure, brokenness will not be completely eradicated until our Lord returns, but we can, by the power of the gospel, experience some deliverance from brokenness on this side of eternity.
In our most recent study in Leviticus, we considered the issue of God fixing brokenness in the home. In this once-off study in Mark 5, I wish to consider, in a somewhat topical fashion, a New Testament illustration of Jesus fixing a broken home.
When John the Baptist had a crisis of faith, he sent messengers to Jesus to ask whether Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah. In response, Jesus said, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me” (Matthew 11:1-6). Jesus was saying, in effect, “Go and tell John that I am fixing things.” The proof that He was Messiah lay in the fact that He could fix that which was broken.
We saw in our most recent study in Leviticus 14 that the approach to the mildew problem was really about eventuality. It was therefore an issue of maintenance rather than cure. The Israelites should never expect to completely eradicate mildew in their lifetime.
The parallel truth is that brokenness, like mildew, will always be present in this world. But there is very real hope in the gospel of God. One day, when Christ returns, brokenness in all its forms will be entirely eradicated. Until then, we need to embrace the reality of brokenness in the home—even in Christian homes. Yet in the midst of this brokenness, and in view of the ever-present threat of brokenness in our homes, we need to see and to believe that, with God, all things are possible. This was a major purpose behind God’s revelation of the law of leprosy. He was pointing His people to and preparing His people for the one in whom all things would be made new. The law of leprosy was intended to point us to Jesus Christ.
Jesus can mend a broken heart and fix a broken home. This is why we are called to persevere and to grow in grace as we fight the good fight of faith in our homes. We must do so looking with faith and hope to the one to whom this law of leprosy pointed. We have a wonderful illustration of this in Mark 5:1-20. A broken man was fixed and he was called by Christ to go home and fix things there.
In Mark’s account, we have the record of a man who was very broken. He was dangerous, dysfunctional, destructive, and disorderly. He was demonised. You don’t get much more broken than that!
The Lord Jesus made a special trip across the storm-tossed Sea of Galilee in order to fix this man. He was aware that the Gadarenes would largely reject Him, but there was one man who would believe, and so He made the trip, after an exhausting day of ministry, to minister to this one individual. And fix him He did.
This account of the deliverance of a demonized man is the lengthiest account of such a miracle in Scripture. In the words of J. C. Ryle, “The after-conduct of those whom our Lord Jesus Christ healed and cured when upon earth, is a thing which is not often related in the Gospels. The story often describes the miraculous cure, and then leaves the after history of the person cured in obscurity, and passes on to other things.”1 But, of course, here we have an account of the “after-conduct” of this convert. It is instructive in many ways, not the least in that here we have an account of Jesus’ rejection of a man’s volunteering for “fulltime Christian service” after his conversion. But let’s start at the beginning.
The story begins in the opening verses of chapter 5 with Jesus being confronted by a man who was demonised.
Then they came to the other side of the sea, to the country of the Gadarenes. And when He had come out of the boat, immediately there met Him out of the tombs a man with an unclean spirit, who had his dwelling among the tombs; and no one could bind him, not even with chains, because he had often been bound with shackles and chains. And the chains had been pulled apart by him, and the shackles broken in pieces; neither could anyone tame him. And always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones. When he saw Jesus from afar, he ran and worshiped Him. And he cried out with a loud voice and said, “What have I to do with You, Jesus, Son of the Most High God? I implore You by God that You do not torment me.”
We don’t know how long he had been in this condition. We are only told that “always, night and day, he was in the mountains and in the tombs, crying out and cutting himself with stones” (v. 5). One gets the impression that he had been in this sad state of affairs for quite a length of time.
The man was in a really bad state. We read that he was out of control and that, in spite of efforts to restrain him, like Samson, he could not be bound. It would appear that they had tried to restrain him motivated by concern, not only for themselves (it must have been frightening to hear him crying out) but also for his own well-being. He was prone to self-injury. He was deeply troubled physically, mentally and emotionally. Of course, he was in even worse shape spiritually. He was demonised by a legion of Satan’s emissaries. In spite of much human effort, he was in a mess. In the words of Cole, “He was loaded with chains, in a vain attempt to curb his inner toil by outward restraint.”2
He was dysfunctional and divisive. Very likely, his condition had introduced a degree of poverty into his family, and he found himself ostracised by society. He was humanly hopeless, and whatever family and former friends he had, they were evidently just as hopeless. This man was an outcast. He was deemed to be dangerous. Whatever home life he formerly had was but a distant memory. Was there any hope at all for him?
Jesus had spent some considerable time in chapter 4 healing and teaching. He was so tired that when the disciples pushed off from the shore to make their way by boat across the Sea of Galilee, He promptly fell asleep in the boat. When a violent storm struck and threatened to sink the boat, the disciples woke Him and cried in fear that they were doomed. Evidently, they failed to grasp the reality that if He was at sufficient peace to remain asleep, there was no real reason for them to worry. Nevertheless, He spoke to the storm and it ceased. That miracle, which left the disciples dumbfounded, was soon to be followed by another. “Jesus had demonstrated his power over the forces of nature by stilling the winds and the waves. Now he demonstrates his power over the forces of evil by casting out demons from a possessed man. The two stories go together. They reveal that Jesus is truly divine.”3
And so we find Jesus on the other side of the Sea, confronted by a demonised man. The following verses record His response. The demons had begged Jesus not to torment them because “He said to him, ‘Come out of the man, unclean spirit!’” The record continues:
Then He asked him, “What is your name?” And he answered, saying, “My name is Legion; for we are many.” Also he begged Him earnestly that He would not send them out of the country. Now a large herd of swine was feeding there near the mountains. So all the demons begged Him, saying, “Send us to the swine, that we may enter them.” And at once Jesus gave them permission. Then the unclean spirits went out and entered the swine (there were about two thousand); and the herd ran violently down the steep place into the sea, and drowned in the sea. So those who fed the swine fled, and they told it in the city and in the country. And they went out to see what it was that had happened. Then they came to Jesus, and saw the one who had been demon-possessed and had the legion, sitting and clothed and in his right mind. And they were afraid. And those who saw it told them how it happened to him who had been demon-possessed, and about the swine. Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region.
A natural storm had subsided on the boat, but now they were confronted with a spiritual storm.
Once Jesus and his disciples arrive on the other side they are confronted with this spiritual storm. The disciples may have been surprised but Jesus wasn’t. As noted, I suspect that this demonised man was the very reason that Jesus made the journey in the first place. He wanted to put a man’s life back to together. As we will see, He also wanted to put a home back together. Jesus is doing the same today. That is sufficient reason to love Christ in our homes.
This man’s life was instantly and forever changed by the word of the Saviour. Jesus addressed the demons and cast them into a herd of swine. While some have criticised Jesus for destroying two thousand pigs and therefore someone’s livelihood, this simply highlights for us the value of a human soul. Far better for animals to perish than a soul for whom Christ would soon die! In the words of Ryle, “Strong as the great enemy of man was, he was in the presence of One stronger than he.”4 The Lord proved His authority over creation and this man was gloriously converted. In fact, this is always the result when the gospel saves a person: Christ’s authority is proven. He will save His people from their sins, come hell or demons in the water.
It was immediately obvious that this man’s life had been changed. He was “sitting and clothed and in his right mind” (v. 15). No longer was he flailing about insanely, cutting himself and terrorising the townspeople. He is now exercising self-control because of the Saviour’s compassion towards him. For the first time in who-knows-how-long, he was able to think clearly. And his first thought was, “I must stay with Jesus; I must not leave His side! I will serve Him wherever He goes. I will be a missionary!”
The reaction to the miracle was somewhat mixed, as we see in the verses that follow.
Then they began to plead with Him to depart from their region. And when He got into the boat, he who had been demon-possessed begged Him that he might be with Him. However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”
While the townspeople largely begged Jesus to leave, the man who had experienced a marvellous conversion desired to stay with Christ. Who could blame him? The Lord Jesus had forever changed his life. He had delivered him from darkness, from the devil, from despair, and from spiritual death. Of course he would want to stay with Him!
For a long time, this man has been an unproductive member of society. He had had no relationships, and any that he had formerly had were no doubt destroyed by his destructively dark behaviour. He had no doubt been considered unemployable, and so, while he was now “fixed,” he was unemployed and therefore a burden to society. Somebody had to feed him. Simply put, he had no life to which to return. In the eyes of many, he was no doubt a prime candidate for fulltime service. He was unskilled, unemployed and socially unconnected. He did, however, have a sensational testimony. Perhaps he simply needed a manager!
The Lord, however, would have none of it. He rejected this man’s application for fulltime ministry and sent him on his way with a clear instruction: “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you” (v.19). Jesus did not permit him to follow Him on His further ministry outreach because it was vital that this man demonstrate his love for Christ at home.
David Brown commented long ago, “To be a missionary for Christ, in the region where he was so well known and so long dreaded, was a far nobler calling than to follow Him where nobody had ever heard of Him.” I so appreciate the words of Ryle concerning this scene when he writes, “Home is the place where he was daily doing harm by his example, so long as he served the world. Home is the place where he is specially bound to be a living epistle of Christ, so soon as he has been mercifully taught to serve God.”5
Over the past couple of decades there has been a resurgence of God-centredness in the church at large, and of course we are grateful for this. There is a strong emphasis on glorifying God and there seems to be a keen interest in believers living radically and therefore willingly giving up all they have to spread God’s glory among the nations. This is wonderful and we look forward to the future.
But having noted this, I am somewhat concerned with people’s understanding of the need to love Christ at home. It is wonderful that we will love Christ among the nations, and it is wonderful that we will love Him in the church. It is wonderful to love Him in the more external spheres of life, but do we love Him in the home? Perhaps you and I are not the ones to answer this; our family members may be the right ones to ask.
The place to begin showing our love for Christ, who has fixed us, is with those who know us the best—and that is in the home.
The home is the place where we should be vocal about all that Jesus has done for us. The home is our first mission field.
Like this man, our supreme calling, our first place of witness, is in our homes. This man was being instructed to “deny himself the pleasure of being in Christ’s bodily presence, in order to do the higher work of being useful to others.”6 This has much by way of relevance for us. Will we faithfully fulfil our calling to love Christ in our homes? That is, will our profession of love for Christ be credible at home? As we will eventually see, this man’s was.
Now, obviously this is a narrative, and we want to be careful about making dogmatic doctrinal conclusions from this historical account. And yet at the same time we would be unwise to ignore some obvious pictures and implied lessons from it. One of those surely is that our witness must begin in the home; it must begin with doing all we can to impact those we are closest to for Christ.
Having received the Lord’s instruction to return home, “he departed and began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him; and all marvelled” (v. 20).
This man was now in his right mind. He returned home and his family and friends were no doubt amazed. He was fully clothed and calm. Well, sort of. After all, how calm would such a new convert be?
The text tells us that he “began to proclaim in Decapolis all that Jesus had done for him.” The result was that “all” who heard his witness “marvelled.” His testimony at home had credibility.
Do you ever find it ironic that, when Jesus gave instructions to new converts, they almost always immediately disobeyed Him? For example, when Jesus healed the leper in Mark 1, He instructed him to say nothing to anyone but to go directly to the priests and offer the required sacrifices. Instead, “he went out and began to proclaim it freely, and to spread the matter” (vv. 44-45). His disobedience significantly complicated the life of Jesus. In fact, humanly speaking, it harmed Jesus’ ministry.
The account of Jesus raising Jairus’ daughter is another case in point. Jesus instructed Jairus not to tell anyone what had happened, but he immediately went and told everyone he could. Don Francisco, in fact, has written a song about this called “I’ve Gotta Tell Somebody,” in which he portrays it as a noble thing that Jairus could not keep silent.
The fact of the matter is, however, when the Lord commands us to not do something He is not playing with our heads. He does not employ reverse psychology to get us to do the opposite of what He tells us. He means what he says!
Here, however, we have a stark contrast. This man did exactly what Jesus told him to do. The Lord told him to stay at home and tell his friends, and he did just that. He did not follow Jesus to the other side of the Sea, but stayed in Decapolis and witnessed to his family and friends. He did not sneak into a boat, follow Jesus, and declare, “I gotta tell somebody!” No, he stayed where he was and told those whom Jesus told him to tell.
You see, if we do not obey the Lord, the ministry will suffer. We must obey Him by loving Him in the home. It seems that Jesus returned to the other side of the Sea with the same number of disciples with which He had initially arrived. Numerically speaking, Jesus seemed to have failed on his recent mission trip. He did not come back telling everyone of the number of “decisions” He had received, and did not return with any extra labourers.
But was His trip a failure? Hardly! This convert was exactly where Jesus wanted him to be: loving Christ at home. And what a wonderful impact he had! “All marvelled!”
That is precisely the kind of testimony that I want to have. I want my neighbours to marvel at God’s grace as seen in my life. I want my friends to marvel at God’s amazing grace that saved a wretch like me. Above all, I want my home to be a centrepiece of God’s grace. After raising a son who apostatised from the faith, evangelist Billy Sunday is reported to have said, “If I could do it all over again, I would let the world go to hell and win my own family.”
We must love Christ at home first. And when this is the case, we are better equipped to love Him everywhere else. Let’s be frank: Loving Christ in the home is the most difficult place to do so. “He was eager for Jesus’ company, for no one had ever showed him such love and compassion. But our Lord did not allow it. Instead he gave him the much more difficult task of returning home to his family to bear testimony to what Jesus in his mercy had done for him.”7
God wants us to have credibility in our own homes, because this is where people see us for who we really are. It is the reason that God expects elders to have faithful, believing children (1 Timothy 3:4-5; Titus 1:6). If they do not have credibility in the home, can we really expect them to have it in the church and in the world? The home is where we show the practical fruit of a life converted to Christ. We relate to others with a Christ-like love. We point others to Christ. We reveal Christ in our emotional control. We reveal Christ in living “sanely.” We reveal Christ as we build relationships. We reveal Christ as we live responsibly. We reveal Christ as we fight the good fight of faith. We reveal Christ when we fail—and, specifically, by the way we handle our failures.
There has been a lot written in recent years with reference to the folly of exhorting believers to not only preach the gospel but to also practice the gospel. Saint Francis of Assisi is credited with saying that believers are to always preach the gospel and, when necessary, to use words. That statement has been unfairly assaulted by some iconoclasts, while others have accurately noted that the gospel is a message that is to be proclaimed and believed, and that to “practice” the gospel is an awkward task. After all, how do we practice the death, burial and resurrection of Christ? I won’t settle the debate here but I do want to make the appeal that we live out the implications of the gospel in our homes.
When you sin, preach to yourself the reality of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ on your behalf. Repent and embrace God’s forgiveness in Christ. Have you ever mistreated your domestic employee and then repented of such sin? Let everyone in your home experience your love for Christ. If they don’t, then perhaps your professed love for Christ needs some more practical expression.
Again, I find it enlightening that Jesus rejected this man as a fulltime labourer in the ministry. He was instead to go home and let those upon whom he had direct influence be the recipients of his ministry. “Go home and make your Christianity work there. Go home and reach your family and friends. By doing so, you will accomplish a lot more than being a missionary with me. Go home and prove you are fixed. Go home and fix what you broke.”
I have long had a burden (and thus an emphasis in my ministry) regarding a multigenerational church. Our church is presently in the wonderful position that, simply by virtue of the number of children of church members, we can expect grown by at least a hundred member over the next six or seven years. We have recently began to see some fruit from this, as in recent times some six- and seven-year-olds have begun to testify that the Lord has given them a new heart. Some might be sceptical, but I suspect that if God could regenerate John the Baptist in his mother’s womb, he can do the same for children today at an early age.
Do we expect our children to be fixed? Why should we expect our young children to obey us when we command them to stop whining, to stop jumping on the furniture, or go to bed on time, but we don’t expect them to obey us when we command them to repent and obey the gospel? All other commands are merely preparatory for their expected obedience to this most important command.
But perhaps one of the main reasons that our children do not obey us when we command them to obey the gospel is because we are not at the same time doing a healthy job of commending the gospel. In other words, if we do not love Christ in our homes then those whom we are called to influence in our homes may find it very difficult to listen about Christ in our homes.
The interplay here between God’s sovereignty and our responsibility must not be missed. Those in our homes will only take us seriously when we command them to believe if our conviction in the sovereignty of God is attended by our commitment to adorn the gospel in the home. Are we making sin repulsive and Christ attractive? Is our testimony of our love for Christ credible?
Parenting is not a coin toss. Parents can stand before a church and proclaim their love for Christ at the top of their lungs. They can (and should) bring their children to church each week. But if they do not love the Lord Jesus in their homes throughout the week, then the impact of loving Christ in the church is usually rendered null and void.
What are some of the requirements necessary for those who are faithfully seeking to “fix” their broken homes? Let me mention a few.
The Scriptures teach believing parents that we should expect our children to accompany us to heaven. We have promises to this effect. The promise of the gospel “is to you and to your children, and to all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call” (Acts 3:39).
For whatever reason, we rarely hear this preached. But the texts are there for the taking and for the believing. This has nothing to do with presumption but everything to do with faith. It has to do with taking seriously our responsibility for covenant-keeping, which is inseparable from promise-believing. It has everything to do with teaching the church human responsibility in the light of divine sovereignty. It has everything to do with instructing the church in the truth of Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”
In other words, it is not our responsibility to try and plumb the depths of God’s eternal (and unrevealed) counsels, but it is our responsibility to obey what He has revealed. And He has revealed much about our responsibility—and, by His grace, our ability—to raise a godly seed. This has everything to do with loving Christ in the home.
Remember, parenting, like every other area of the Christian life, operates on the principle that “faith without works is dead” (see James 2:17, 20, 26). This leads to the next requirement.
We need to be intentional about loving Christ in the home. We must engage our minds, our hearts and our wills when we walk through the door in the evening, and we need to do likewise when we wake.
I would imagine that this man in Mark 5 was pretty focused. I wonder how long it lasted.
Do you ever find yourself going through an entire day without giving much thought to Christ and your dependence upon Him? Sadly, I can testify to such experiences. But, my brethren, these things ought not to be! We must be Christ-lovers (Christians) 24/7.
When this man reflected on what the Lord had delivered him from, his love for Christ was no doubt stimulated. And others smelled the aroma. After being feared by the community (no doubt, children would have cowered from him), he was now seen to be approachable. I can imagine that he had a new tenderness about him. But there was also a productivity about him that he did not have before. Rather than spending his time in the wilderness, howling at the moon, he was now working in the field or carrying out a job that he recently secured. He was providing for others rather than others needing to be preoccupied with him and his needs. He served because he was in love with Jesus.
If we keep before us the incredible transformation that Jesus has wrought in our lives then we will have little trouble embracing our responsibility to love Christ in our homes. We will desire to honour Him before our family and our friends. It will be an almost natural overflow from hearts preoccupied with Him.
But also consider that this man would have lived before his family and friends with a sense of urgency. This seems to be inherent in the picture of him going from place to place in the Decapolis. The ten-city region of Galilee was evangelised by one of its own. No doubt, he was compelled by his experience of sovereign grace to declare the name and fame of the Saviour.
Let me ask, do you sense the same urgency with reference to the name and fame of Jesus in your home? Are you urgent about the salvation of your family?
When I was in university, every class would begin with a time of prayer, and the lecturer would always ask whether anyone in the class had a request. There was one older man with whom I shared several classes, and every time prayer requests were taken he would raise his hand and request prayer for his twelve-year-old daughter, whom he wanted to see saved. After a few weeks, you could almost sense eyes rolling as this man faithfully continued to issue the same request class after class. One day, several months later, he raised his hand and testified that God had saved his daughter.
I will never forget that man’s passion to see his daughter saved. Are you urgent about your family loving Christ will all their heart, soul, mind and strength? If not, then get urgent today!
A Word to Pastors
I must also add a word to pastors here. It seems to me that we are often pretty good at loving Christ in the church, but are we as faithful about loving Him in our own homes? If our congregation paid a “pastoral visit” to our homes, what would be their impression?
I am sure that most of our families would testify that we read the Bible with them and that we pray with them. Our family worship perhaps would receive high marks. But what about the issue of our engagement with our wife and children outside this time around either the table? Would our families testify that they are a priority, or that our ministry outside our home is?
I am familiar with warnings by men much wiser than me who say that we should never make reference to our families when preaching. But while too many personal references can no doubt be abused and even prove counterproductive, at the same time I am concerned if a man can preach year in and year out without any mention of his home life. After all, it is in the home where a man’s credibility for ministry is proven or disproven. I think it is true that a man who loves Christ in his home will find himself almost compelled to illustrate the truth of Scripture from what the Lord is teaching him and his family. But if the man is an absentee husband or father, there won’t be a great many home illustrations to use.
Think about the early church and its tendency to meet as small groups in houses. When this was the case, the congregation would gain first-hand exposure to how (or if) Christ was being loved in the home.
Once again, our credibility is at stake. It is sometimes far easier to love Christ in the church than to do so before those who see us early in the morning, on our day off, or when we have had too little sleep. It is in these very true-to-life scenarios that our love for Christ is put to the test.
At this point in Jesus’ ministry, the people of the area “began to plead with Him to depart from their region” (v. 17). His visit resulted in a single convert and much resistance. But that is not the end of the story.
Again, departing from the region of Tyre and Sidon, He came through the midst of the region of Decapolis to the Sea of Galilee. Then they brought to Him one who was deaf and had an impediment in his speech, and they begged Him to put His hand on him. And He took him aside from the multitude, and put His fingers in his ears, and He spat and touched his tongue. Then, looking up to heaven, He sighed, and said to him, “Ephphatha,” that is, “Be opened.” Immediately his ears were opened, and the impediment of his tongue was loosed, and he spoke plainly. Then He commanded them that they should tell no one; but the more He commanded them, the more widely they proclaimed it. And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.”
As noted above, we do not excuse the disobedience of those who spoke when Jesus instructed them to keep silent, but it is significant that, on this trip to Decapolis, the people “were astonished beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.’” It appears that he returned to find soil that had been prepared—undoubtedly in large measure by the demoniac.
The man in Mark 5 was instructed by the Saviour to be a voice where it mattered the most: at home. We do not know his name, and have no idea what happened became of him. What we do know is that he told those with whom he came into contact that Jesus had changed his life. And others were also eventually touched by Christ because of this.
Most of us will not be remembered by the world or by the church at large. Nevertheless, if my family accompanies me to heaven, I suppose, in the end, that is success. If my family loves the Lord Jesus Christ and in turn raises their children to do so, I can die well.
We must recognize that when Christ is loved in the home then there is every reason to believe that He will then be loved elsewhere—even in other homes. John Paton had a great impact for Christ in the New Hebrides, but the root of his own faith was traced to an “ordinary” father who loved Christ and taught his son to do so.
I will not speak dogmatically where Scripture is silent. We do not know the eventual legacy left by this man, but we do know that he spread the news of the Saviour to those who needed a local witness. It will be interesting in heaven to meet this man and to find out who was converted through his witness. I wonder if some of those whom he reached took the truth of Christ further afield. I am simply saying that, because this man loved Jesus at home, it is likely that others came to love him as well.
Don’t minimise the impact of loving Christ in your home. In fact, the best way to impact the world is to begin in the home.
As we draw our study to a close, I want to summarise an important principle that undergirds the law of leprosy as revealed in Leviticus 13—14: This broken world will be fixed by Jesus Christ through His power displayed through His people.
Individuals who are committed going home to be a source for good are the means that God will use to fix that which is broken in their home. Ultimately, God plans to fix that which is broken (Romans 8:18-23). Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Colossians 1:20 says it brilliantly: “All the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe—people and things, animals and atoms—get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the Cross.”
I am a firm believer that the key to the home is the church. But there is a symbiotic relationship between the two, and it can also be argued that the key to the church is the home. The one undergirds (or impedes) the other. As the believer loves Christ in his home, the church benefits; and as the believer loves Christ in practical body life, the home benefits. And so does the rest of society. It is no mistake that the instructions for biblical family dynamics follows on the heels of instructions for corporate worship in Ephesians 5:18—6:10. When the church is fixed, so is the home, and vice versa.
But when the church and home are fixed, so many other things can also be fixed. Fixing a broken home is in some ways foundational to protecting other things from being broken. Think about it. If leprosy broke out in a house, those living in the house were in danger of harm to their health. Dampness is not a good environment in which to live. That is why if such leprosy was detected in the house, it was an indication that danger was looming for the household.
Likewise, if believers will assume their responsibility for a healthy home spiritually, then other aspects of society will be guarded against the onslaught of destructive ills. For example, if parents will address early on the evidence of rebellion in their children, schools will be much more orderly, safer, and more respectful. If you are hoping for corporal punishment to be reinstated in the school system as a means to cure or curtail violence and chaos in society, you have completely missed the plot.
If parents will take responsibility for the training of their children then sexually transmitted and such will not break out in society. We won’t be greeted at customs counters with the offer of free condoms.
If the home is a place where men are men and give leadership to their families, the church will not be effeminate.
If the home is fixed, we will see this reflected in the overall health of the nation, the workplace and the like. And, of course, the way to fix the home and the nation is by the gospel of Jesus Christ.
At the recent funeral of Bernard Ncube, President Jacob Zuma appealed to religious leaders to promote social cohesion in the community.
“We urge the religious sector, in the memory of Sister Bernard [Ncube], to continue promoting social cohesion and stability in families and communities. . . .
“We cannot achieve transformation or sustainable development working alone. We are therefore encouraged by the support of the faith-based sector as we continue to build a truly non-racial, non-sexist, democratic and prosperous society,” he said.8
President Zuma has called upon religious leaders to help, and I would be only too glad to offer assistance. The fact of the matter is, we have the solution! The solution to the brokenness in our world is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. And the foundation of that, in many ways, is the home. Chaos reigns in societies where homes are broken. When children are not raised in the nurture and discipline of the Lord, they will go into society and wreak havoc. But as homes are fixed by the gospel, it spreads to society at large.
I noted briefly above the great number of children with which God has blessed our church. I am excited about the future. If today’s parents will commit to trusting the gospel to fix their homes, can you imagine the impact that the next generation will have? As children in the church begin pairing off (and it seems as it marriages are already being arranged!), and both spouses come from Christ-centred homes and therefore begin their marriage on the same basis, who can tell the impact that the next generation, and subsequent ones, will have for the glory of God.
Jesus can fix you. He can fix your home. Will you admit the leprosy of your sin and, in repentance and faith, call upon His name and be fixed?
- J. C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1985), 93. ↩
- R. Alan Cole, Mark: Tyndale New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 156. ↩
- Walter W. Wessell, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 12 vols. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 8:657. ↩
- Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark, 91. ↩
- Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark, 97. ↩
- Ryle, Expository Thoughts on Mark, 96. ↩
- Wessell, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 8:659. ↩
- The Times Live, “Religious leaders must promote cohesion: Zuma,” http://goo.gl/XcC4y, retrieved 9 September 2012. ↩