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Relationship Rescue – Jesus Style: Making Your Home Work By Doing Your Homework

Philemon 1:1-7

Did you hear the story about the barber who had a negative attitude about everything? He was always whining, complaining and grumbling. One day a man came into his barber shop to get a hair cut. The man got in the chair because he was all excited because he was about to make a wonderful trip to Europe and would be leaving the next day. Well, this negative barber asked him, “Where will you be going?” The man said, “Well, first we’re going to London.” The barber said, “Aw, London’s a terrible place -dirty, noisy, way too expensive. You won’t like London at all. Where else are you going?” The man replied, “Well, we’re going over to Paris after that.” The barber immediately whined, “Paris is worse. The people are rude. You won’t like it at all. Where else are you going?” The man said, “Well, then we’re going to fly to Rome.” The barber cried, “Rome is the worst of all. The food is terrible, and whatever you do, don’t visit the Vatican. The lines are too long, and certainly don’t think you’re going to see the Pope either because the Pope is not accessible. Even if you do see him, you won’t understand a word he says because he doesn’t speak any English.” Well, the next day the man went on his trip and two weeks later, he returned to the negative barber for another haircut. The barber asked, “How was your trip?” The man said, “Absolutely terrific. London was great; Paris was beautiful; and Rome! Ah Rome! That was the highlight of the whole trip. Everything was delightful. We went to the Vatican and even had an audience with the pope; no crowds at all. It was like we had a private conversation with him. He spoke to us personally and he spoke in English. Then he had me kneel. He placed his hand on my head, and he gave me a blessing. Then he leaned forward and he spoke into my ear in perfect English these words, ‘You are a very handsome man, but I have to tell you that’s the worst haircut I’ve ever seen in my life!”’

A couple of things to learn here: (1) A negative attitude is not a pretty sight and (2) negative attitudes come back to haunt us. Now it is my conviction that it is the Christian home where we best learn how not to be negative but instead to celebrate life and to celebrate other people. That’s one of the reasons I love Paul’s letter to Philemon. It’s a very personal letter from Paul to his good friend, Philemon. Lots of people, through history, have wondered why in the world that letter is in the Bible. Well, it’s there for a lot of good reasons. I’ll have to wait for another occasion to go into that in detail but for our purposes today, there is a powerful little phrase in the early portion of that letter. Paul, writing to his friend, Philemon, extends greetings to “the church in your house.” Isn’t that a fascinating phrase, “the church in your house”? Of course, that’s the way they did it back then. I mean they didn’t have glorious gothic cathedrals or soaring glass sanctuaries in which to meet. Instead, they met in homes. Paul was referring to the church which met in Philemon’s home, but you know I think there is something about that phrase which speaks pointedly to the time in which you and I are living. You see, I happen to believe that all of our homes, in a sense, ought to be a church. There ought to be a church in our house, because it is in the home that we best learn the things that Christians ought to know. It’s in the home that we do the homework of the faith. If we were to do that, if there were to be an understanding that the church is in our house wherever our house happens to be—if we were to understand that then I submit to you that our homes would work, our church would work, and our society would work as well. Now, what are some of the things we ought to be learning in our homes? Well, I wish to highlight just a couple of them. You, no doubt, will think of others.

In the first place, a Christian home is the place where we learn to embrace the teachings of Jesus Christ.

To put that bluntly, it is at home where we need to be teaching children the difference between right and wrong, and we need to be teaching it by what we say and what we do. I want to suggest to you that we might call this “homeschooling for Christ.” You see, it is at home where we ought to be practicing the faith and then passing it on, not only to our children, but then to those we encounter in the course of our everyday living.

I ran across a fascinating piece of genealogical research on two families up in the Northeast. One of those families was the family of Jonathan Edwards. You may recall his name. He was one of the key figures of the religious “Great Awakening” in early American history. Jonathan Edwards’ father was a minister, and his mother was the daughter of a preacher. His mom and dad believed in practicing the faith in their home and passing it on to their children. What is the result of that? Well, the genealogical research on the Edwards family yields up direct descendents of that family through the next several generations. Listen to the statistics. The Edwards family produced 14 college presidents, more than 100 college professors, more than 100 lawyers, 30 judges, 60 physicians, more than 100 preachers, missionaries, and theological professors, and about 60 authors. Such is the produce of a home where the faith is practiced and passed on. Now, by contrast, look at the study of the Max Jukes family in New York State. The Jukes family rejected faith in Jesus Christ, ridiculed the faith in fact—and that family wound up costing the State of New York millions upon millions of dollars. Twelve hundred direct descendants of the Jukes family were studied. Listen to this account. Of the twelve hundred, 310 were professional beggars or parasites on society, 440 physically wrecked themselves by their wicked and dissolute living, 6o were habitual thieves, 130 were convicted criminals, 55 were purveyors of prostitution and promiscuity, only 20 learned a trade and, of those 20, 10 of them learned that trade in state prison, and this family produced 7 murderers. Do you get the point?

Well, in case you don’t get the point, here it is: It is the home where a child’s inner life, strength, and resources are shaped, formed, and developed. Consequently it is at home that a child’s future is determined. That is why it is so important for us to understand that we need to do the homework of the faith at home. Home is the place where the teachings of Jesus Christ are embraced, where the faith is practiced and then passed on.

Also, I think it’s important for us to remember that a Christian home is the place where we learn to experience the love of Jesus Christ

Jesus, by His living, by His dying and everything that has happened since His living and since His dying, has proved once for all and forever the strength and power of transforming love. Now just think, if you and I in our homes were able to capture something of that same loving spirit of Christ, and if the homes of this nation were able to experience that same kind of love—just think what we could do in this country, and just think what we could accomplish. The power of love!

I know that all of us here know the name Babe Ruth—one of the greatest baseball players of all time. What you may not know is that “The Babe” as he was affectionately called made the mistake some professional athletes make. He played a little too long. He continued trying to play even after age had diminished his skills both at the plate and in the field. Consequently, near the end of his career, he became almost ineffective. In fact one of the last games that he played as a professional, he committed in one inning 5 errors out in the field. Those 5 errors each led to a run by the opposing team. When Babe Ruth walked off the field at the end of that disastrous inning, suddenly there was a crescendo of boos and catcalls directed at Babe Ruth. It was an agonizing moment for the once great athlete. You see never before had he had an experience like that. The crowds, which, for so many years, had idolized him, had turned on him with a vengeance. It was a moment of deep humiliation for him. At that moment, in the bleachers, there was a little boy—a little boy who just couldn’t stand to see Babe Ruth hurt like that. This little boy actually climbed over the railing in the stadium and jumped down onto the field. Then he began to run, with tears streaming down his face, he began to run toward Babe Ruth. When he reached Babe Ruth, he threw his little arms around the great athlete’s legs. In that moment, Babe Ruth reached down, picked the little boy up, and hugged him tightly. Suddenly all the catcalls stopped. All the booing came to an abrupt halt. A profound hush settled over the whole stadium. The love of a little boy had melted the hearts of an angry, hostile crowd. Love happened on a baseball field, and suddenly the outcome of the baseball game didn’t seem to be terribly important anymore.

Now, where do you think that young boy learned those values? He learned them at home. That is why it is so important for me to say and for you to hear: Home is the place where we first learn to experience the love of Jesus Christ—a love that can have a transforming power on the world around us.

Well, I’d like to finish with a story I once heard Dr. Fred Craddock tell…

It seems there was a young couple who every Sunday morning would drive up in front of Dr. Craddock’s church and put their little daughter out to go to Sunday School. Then mom and dad would go on to have brunch together somewhere else. Now this young couple was an upwardly mobile young couple determined to climb the ladder of success, and they were willing to do anything at all in order to get ahead. They got in the habit of entertaining in their home on most Saturday nights, and they would always be very sure to invite just the right people to the parties in their home—the people who would help them in their quest to climb the ladder. One Saturday night, the party got a little out of hand. There was a lot of drinking and a lot of noise. Their little daughter had long since gone up to bed, but she was awakened by all the racket. She came down the steps and was standing on the staircase that led up to her bedroom, looking out at this scene before her. Suddenly someone in the party noticed the little girl, said something, and immediately everybody fell silent. The parents, angry, demanded to know why the little girl was out of bed. The little girl said, “I heard you all having such a good time I thought I would just come down to watch.” Then the little girl noticed that everyone had plates of food and drink glasses in their hands, and the little girl asked, perfectly innocently, “Has anyone here said the blessing?” Immediately the little girl bowed her head and said right out loud, “God is great. God is good. Let us thank Him for our food. Amen.” With that the little girl then said, “Now you all go on and have a good time.” She turned and went back up the stairs. Dear friends, I want to tell you something. In two minutes, that party was over! Everybody dropped their plates and their glasses, hustled out the door, and headed home. The next morning, Sunday, Dr. Fred Craddock looked out at his congregation from his pulpit, and he saw the little girl sitting in the congregation. He had seen the little girl many times in Sunday School, but he didn’t know the couple sitting with the little girl. At the end of the service, when Dr. Craddock extended the invitation to come to faith in Jesus Christ, this couple came forward and they proceeded to tell Dr. Craddock the story of what had happened the night before. They said to him, “You know when we were trying to pick up all of the used napkins, the half-eaten sandwiches, the spilled peanuts, and the empty drink glasses, suddenly the two of us stopped and looked at each other and asked, ‘Where are we headed in this family?’ So Dr. Craddock, we made the decision that we wanted to join this church. We want to learn how to make our home the kind of home God wants it to be.”

The young couple asked, “Where are we headed in this family?” Good question. I want to ask: Where are you headed in your family?

Good question!

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