The Gospel Is For Broken Families

In her book Family, the Forming Center, Marjorie Thompson reminds us that every family is dysfunctional and needs daily doses of the gospel:

“Families often feel that their brokenness is unacceptable at church.  They may try to cover their pain and sense of failure in order to project the image of the Christian family they think the church requires of them.  Dressing in ‘Sunday best’ is a metaphor for the effort many families make to present themselves as acceptable in the presence of other church-goers, who frequently are perceived as perfect models.

Unfortunately, in hiding their real needs from the church, families may try to hide their wounds from God too.  The very community where we are called to encounter and be encountered by a God of grace—a God who is holy yet merciful and desires to heal all our diseases (Psalm 10:3)—can become a place of avoidance.  If the church is not a community in which our brokenness can be acknowledged honestly, neither will it be a community in which healing takes place.

It is crucial then for churches to communicate that there is no such thing as a ‘perfect Christian family,’ any more than there is such a thing as a ‘perfect Christian’ in this life.  Because Christian families are simply families made up of individual Christians, what applies to one applies to the whole.  All of us are earthen vessels—cracked, chipped, and sometimes quite broken.

The greatest saints among us have been those most acutely aware of their human frailty and most free to admit it.  As one of my colleagues once quipped in dead earnest, we have ‘feet of clay right up to our necks!’ But the good news is precisely that ‘while we were still sinners Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8).  The core of the gospel is that God loves us even in the midst of our brokenness and is always ready to confront, heal, and nurture us back to wholeness.  The grace of Christian experience is always a grace at the very heart of what is broken” (pp. 40-41).


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