BRINGING HEAVEN DOWN
HEAVEN IN THE HOME
October 3, 2013
“They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household."
The family is the smallest cooperative unit in a civilized society. It is the fundamental and primary building block of our world. It is in the family where one’s personality is shaped and one’s perception of life is formed. Thus, if we are to bring heaven down on earth, there is no better place to begin than in the home. As the wise man wrote:
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”
Much good Bible-based counsel is available from many different sources concerning the ideal family and the roles each member should play. All of us would do well to consider such counsel and apply it to the extent it is in harmony with the plain and open teachings of Jesus. For example, no matter what counsel is given regarding submission and obedience, absolute submission and obedience is due only to the Father.
However, in this article, we go directly to the source, the foundation upon which all other counsel can securely rest because the family is more than just individuals who must carry out certain roles. We are more than role players. We are first and foremost sons of God and heirs to the heavenly kingdom. (Romans 8:16-17) As Jesus said:
“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ for you have one Teacher, and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ for you have one Father, and he is in heaven.”
Accordingly, every member of your family, regardless of what role they must play, is your spiritual brother. [Those in the family who have not yet acknowledged nor accepted their sonship with God are still His children, through they may be blind or rebellious children. As such, we also accord them brotherly love and respect.] Therefore, the husband and wife are brothers in Christ. The parents and children are brothers in Christ. And the children among themselves are brothers in Christ. That means that the ‘role model’ for each one of us is Christ Jesus of Nazareth.
In his ministry, Jesus demonstrated the spirit that each of us should bring to whatever role we play in the family. For instance, he loved his disciples as should a father:
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”
He cared for his disciples as should a husband:
“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”
He humbled and subjected himself as should a responsible wife and a wise husband (Ephesians 5:21):
“After that, he poured water into a basin and began to wash his disciples’ feet, drying them with the towel that was wrapped around him.”
“When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.”
-1 Corinthians 15:28
He empathized and protected his disciples as should a mother:
“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were not willing.”
And he was obedient as a child:
“So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”
We can each look to Jesus as the role model for the spirit of our behavior no matter which role we play in the family arrangement. We should each put on the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16) to enable us to do the Father’s will – the best and right thing under the circumstances. When confused, we can ask the popular phrase “What Would Jesus Do?” Then act according to his spirit. In this way, we allow ourselves to be led by the spirit of truth who is, for all intents and purposes, Jesus on earth:
“But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you.”
- John 16:13-15
If we engage our family members as spiritual brothers, we will be far less likely to take advantage of them or abuse them. We will be far less likely to yell at them, to call them names, to physically assault them, to steal from them, to lie to them, to betray them, to discard them.
Unfortunately, some feel they can take special liberties at home. They think home is where they can ‘let their hair down’ so to speak, and ‘be themselves.’ That being the case, we can say that the way a man treats his wife at home is a reflection of his true self – his real character – regardless of how honorable he may appear to be at work or in the congregation. The same can be said for the wife and children. The way we treat one another in the home is a better indication of who we really are than any amount of religious service or cultured appearance.
That is not to say that we cannot relax at home. We should have a certain comfort level and ease in our surroundings. But we should not take for granted our responsibility as Christ’s brothers to show kindness and respect to one another in the home. There are grave consequences for dismissing this counsel:
“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’ “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’ “Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
It is a powerful realization that the way we treat our family members is counted as the way we are treating Jesus Christ. What better reason to keep on honoring and respecting each member of our family as one of Christ’s brothers!
Love Without Hypocrisy
As brothers in Christ, we are given this counsel:
“Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.”
“Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart. For you have been born again, not of perishable seed, but of imperishable, through the living and enduring word of God.”
-1 Peter 1:22-23
Hypocrisy is defined as: “the behavior of people who do things that they tell other people not to do; behavior that does not agree with what someone claims to believe or feel.” “The practice of professing beliefs, feelings, or virtues that one does not hold or possess; falseness.” It is, in essence, living outside of truth. Not being true to others or to one’s self.
Hypocrisy is not an inherent trait in mankind. We know this because children respond naturally and authentically to their environment unless they are trained, either directly or by example, to respond differently. Thus, hypocrisy is bred into the human race as a result of inconsistent counsel, unfair rules, covert agendas, and things like these. It is an almost guarantee of discord in the family as it breeds distrust, stifles communication, hinders love and ultimately results in total breakdown.
Living hypocritically also stunts spiritual growth. And prolonged hypocrisy kills it. While it may appear easier to say one thing and do another, in reality, living such a life takes a tremendous toll on our emotional stability since it requires constantly looking over the shoulders to see who is watching. And it shows a lack of respect for the spirit of God that dwells inside each one of us. (1 Corinthians 3:16; 1 Corinthians 6:19)
In giving counsel to parents, Paul wrote:
“Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”
Living hypocritically is irritating to children who will quickly lose respect for such parents and their parent’s religious beliefs. Children seem to have an innate ability to sense hypocrisy, perhaps because they do not have a lot of emotional baggage that would cloud their judgment. And they may even turn away from God and choose to lead ‘double lives,’ believing religion to be nothing more than a parent’s fantasy that even the parents do not believe in. Such parents should not be surprised if they discover their children have a secret life of drug use, sexual promiscuity and profanity.
On the other hand, a wise and loving parent will discover that living openly and honestly will show their children that it is safe to approach them with their questions, no matter how sensitive or how personal. Honest living includes parents opening up about their own shortcoming, rather than hiding their truth under the guise of sheltering them or protecting them from life’s realities. In this way, such parents learn to walk with their children through their trials to show them how to make wise decisions, rather than running behind them cleaning up their messes.
And all in the family should take Jesus’ counsel:
“All you need to say is simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”
This counsel is especially beneficial in a spiritually divided home. Even though there may be different views of God or religion or religious beliefs, honesty and openness can still exist and permeate the family. In fact, rather than working to ‘convert’ your family members, a wiser course would be ‘converse’ by promoting fair and open communication without fear of attack, belittlement, condemnation, or judgment. Remember, a true spiritual awakening only comes from self-realization, when a person is able to see him or herself in the message. That can hardly occur when the message is presented in a condemnatory tone.
We can foster trust in the home by unhypocritically exhibiting the ‘mind of Christ’ and ‘letting our yes mean yes.’ This is the type of soil into which the plain and open teachings of Jesus can be implanted and in time, the tiny mustard seed of sonship can develop in your family members who are a little behind the ‘spiritual times.’
The Heavenly Atmosphere
Bringing heaven down in the home means that the atmosphere or mood in the home is reflective of the atmosphere or mood in heaven. That might sound like a near impossible feat, but it is quite possible. The Apostle Paul showed us how. He gave us what most call the nine fruits of the spirit, but we could just as well call them the nine displays of heavenly life because these are the fruits that flow from spiritual beings – those who are born of spirit and those who are led by spirit.
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.”
It is possible for one to exhibit ‘spiritual fruit’ here and there, but to become truly spiritual people, it requires repetition of enacting all nine displays of spirit. It must become a way of life – a course that we do not deviate from.
We note that all nine displays of spirit are positive and uplifting. It reminds us of Paul’s counsel to the congregation in Philippi:
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
We are counseled to keep a positive frame of mind. Instead of finding what’s wrong with the world, find what is right and good and true and virtuous, and talk about these types of things in the home. For example, the Father gave us the ability to display and appreciate art, music, and culture. While some of it is not beneficial, there is still a great deal of it that brings honor and praise to our Creator, uplifts our spirit, and draws us closer to the Father as the originator of those gifts.
Also our physical world can be a source of joy and discovery now, in spite of its current weather anomalies and instabilities. About our physical world, the psalmist wrote:
“You open your hand and satisfy the desires of every living thing.”
We can learn a lot about the power of God by an examination of our physical world with the naked eye and through the eye of science:
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.”
As such, parents should encourage a study of music and art and science. Children should be allowed to explore our world as it allows them to get to know more about their Creator. Learning and growth should never be stifled. As Jesus commanded:
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
The glimpses into heaven that we have been given in the Bible reveal that music, singing, beauty and grandeur are abundant in heaven.
“And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.”
“And he carried me away in the Spirit to a mountain great and high, and showed me the Holy City, Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God. It shone with the glory of God, and its brilliance was like that of a very precious jewel, like a jasper,clear as crystal. It had a great, high wall with twelve gates, and with twelve angels at the gates. On the gates were written the names of the twelve tribes of Israel.”
“The wall was made of jasper, and the city of pure gold, as pure as glass. The foundations of the city walls were decorated with every kind of precious stone. The first foundation was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald, the fifth onyx, the sixth ruby, the seventh chrysolite, the eighth beryl, the ninth topaz, the tenth turquoise, the eleventh jacinth, and the twelfth amethyst. The twelve gates were twelve pearls, each gate made of a single pearl. The great street of the city was of gold, as pure as transparent glass.”
Learning to enjoy the gifts from our Creator in the areas of art, beauty, music, culture, gives us refreshment and fortifies us to be able to continue in our temporal journey while we await our adoption into heaven. While others choose to take a negative ‘us against them’ attitude toward the world, as sons of the kingdom and citizens of the heavens we should allow ourselves the opportunity to explore these avenues in order to build up the spirit in the home.
Yes, we are living in the last days of a certain system of things, but the system is changing right before our eyes. People are waking up and shaking off the old chains of an antiquated system that binds the spirit and imprisons the mind. The sons of the kingdom should be ambassadors of the heavens, promoting its spirit and its good will. We cannot do that if our outlook is all doom and gloom.
The family is the fundamental building block of society. If we want to change our world, it begin in the home. If we can get families to bring heaven down, we can start a wave of hope that leads to a tsunami of faith that culminates in the salvation of our world. We hope you will join with us in this lofty endeavor.
We welcome your comments.
"Your Brothers in Faith"