The Cure for Dysfunctional Families

I am honored to lead the Resources Division at LifeWay and serve with a team of leaders who are passionate to serve the Church in Her mission of making disciples. Each Wednesday, I share the heart behind one of the resources our team has developed and give an opportunity for you to register to win a free copy of the resource. This week’s resource is Gospel Foundations for Students. Our Students Team wrote this post.

Some Christians long for “the good ole days” when family values were celebrated in our culture. We complain about the shows on TV and wish there were more sitcoms focused on the perfect lives of nuclear families, whose problems can be resolved in thirty minutes or less. But the truth is families have always been sinful and dysfunctional. Because of sin, families have always shifted blame, reversed roles, and rebelled against God. It was true after the Fall, and it is still true today. Parents and the teenagers they parent both know this to be true.

No family is perfect, and we see this ever so clearly in the lives of the patriarchs. Abraham made some serious mistakes, two of which involved lying about his marriage with Sarah out of fear for his own life (with little to no regard about the potential consequences for her). And even Sarah herself messed up by suggesting Abraham sleep with her maidservant, Hagar, thinking that would help God’s promises come to pass.

Isaac and Rebekah showed extreme favoritism towards their sons, Esau and Jacob, who themselves had serious flaws of their own. Esau considered his birthright to be so trivial that he was willing to barter with it for a bowl of stew, and Rebekah and Jacob stooped to such levels of deception that involved outright lies to Isaac so that Jacob might get the blessing.

The deception and dysfunction that Jacob experienced in his own home life would be carried down into his own family. There were occasions of deception between himself and his uncle Laban, and the thread of favoritism that he experienced from his parents would be seen in his own parenting with Joseph and his brothers.

There’s no doubt that Genesis paints an unflattering picture of Abraham and his offspring. We see them lie, cheat, and manipulate. But the good news in all of this is that God does not reserve His love, mercy, and grace only for perfect families. He pours it out in abundance on the broken—on all of us. In fact, the lesson that we learn over and over from these stories is that God can and does use dysfunctional families to carry out His plans.

Of course, as our students read about these accounts in the pages of Scripture, the goal isn’t simply for them to recognize the grace of God in the lives of these unworthy individuals, but to see themselves, and even their own families in them in order to come to greater faith in what God is able to do through them. This is how character development in the Bible operates. As we read about the key figures mentioned in the pages of Scripture, the biblical authors are trying to get us to see ourselves in them, and in doing so, see how God’s grace might manifest itself in our own family life and situation.

Sure, these accounts certainly teach our students that conduct matters to God, and that God calls us to live with honesty and integrity before others. But they also teach us more than that, revealing to us that God is both able and willing to work in surprising ways in unlikely people who are just like us—broken individuals in desperate need of the saving grace of God in our lives.

Gospel Foundations for Students is a resource designed to take students through the storyline of Scripture over the course of one year, highlighting over and over again in each session God’s grace and mercy to save and use anyone to reach anyone with the gospel.

Enter here or in the form below by 11:59pm, tonight, Wednesday, June 20, 2018 for your chance to win 1 of 5 Gospel Foundations for Students Volume 1: The God Who Creates Leader Kit.