Jesus himself seems to have become independent, or to have made himself independent, from his family. We read at one place in Luke that he had no place to lay his head. When he was calling me to be his disciples, he pointed out that not even good, pious acts like burying one’s father or going to tell one’s family goodbye could be allowed to stand in the way of doing what God calls a man to do. But in terms even more drastic, he says that unless a man hates his own father and mother and wife and children, he cannot be his disciple. When we remember that the Apostle John wrote that anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, we see that Jesus was using strong language. In fact, this is so strong that we must believe that Jesus did not mean it literally, but merely to emphasize the importance of a man’s duty to God. Furthermore, to hate is only one way of saying to love someone else so much more.
From these points we can reach two conclusions. Man is under obligation to assume responsibility for his family, and especially his parents. Second, man is under heavy obligation to serve God, which he may not evade.
These points have only been leading up to a consideration of a Christian home. There is probably more unchristian attitude in homes where there are brothers and sisters near the same age than in any other home. The commonest form of conflict in families is not disputes between parents and children, but between children. This is not new, for the story of Jacob and Essau is a story of a dispute between brothers. Furthermore, their mother took sides with one against their father. The story of the Prodigal Son in the New Testament is one of disputes between brothers. While this Parable is called the Prodigal Son, it could have just as well been called the Forgiving Father or the Disputing Brothers. Yet, indirectly, this parable gives us the solution for a Christian home. It shows that love of the father for his sons turned the homecoming of the Prodigal into a welcome. Yet, the father also showed the older brother how they had been blessed with their father and son fellowship which had been unbroken.
This parable does not provide a ready-made answer to the problem of a Christian home, nor is there a ready made answer. But such an attitude of forgiveness is essential in such a home. In such an atmosphere, there can be no place for grudges of child against parent or child against child. When children know that their parents will meet new problems with love and forgiveness, the children feel no necessity of being secretive.
To develop such a climate of grace and love and understand is not the simple outcome of a decision, nor is it the work of a few days. Such an atmosphere must be grown and it is slow growing. “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” must be applied even to the members of our own family. The major requirement of family life is love, and the chief aim of the Christian family is to attain it.