You can build better family traditions

You can build better family traditions

Every family falls into patterns of doing things. It can be something minor, like placing the cups in the cupboard upside down when you have washed and dried them. Or it might be something major, like a pattern of responding to disagreements with anger or resentment with little forgiveness or grace. Some families value sport above all other things, while others value reading with every member of the family engaged in a book of their choice.

There can be something very positive about family traditions. But there can also be something terribly destructive. Following other religions often continues for generations. Big issues like drunkenness and violence also have a tendency to be passed on from parents to children.

If you’ve grown up in a destructive family tradition, or a family who have followed another god than the true God, you might feel negative or despondent about it. All of us are a product, to a significant degree, of the way we have been brought up. Yet there is always hope; you can change the path set before you by your parents.

We see this in the latter chapters of 2 Kings. The family line of kings in Judah was almost entirely negative. Most kings tolerated the high places where people worshipped other gods. Some of the kings went far further than this, actively following other gods and persecuting the prophets of the true God. What hope was there that a child born into this kind of family would end up living a faithful life?

Well, we do see this on a couple of occasions. Hezekiah was the son of Ahaz, a man who built a major altar in the temple to another god. Josiah was the grandson of the most evil king Manasseh, who even sacrificed his own son to another god. Yet both Hezekiah and Josiah lived a faithful life before the true God. Despite their family background and upbringing, they worked hard to reform the worship of their country and make significant changes to the society. They set up new patterns of life from the ones they had grown up with.

I know many people who have become Christians from non-Christian family backgrounds. They want to live a life honouring the true God but need to set up new family traditions and ways of living. What does it look like to be a Christian husband? What does it look like to live a single life that is faithful to God? These are questions their parents never asked or attempted to answer, yet they are trying to do these things day by day. And, by God’s grace, they are setting up ways of life that might well not only influence themselves but their families and those around them.

Likewise, you might have grown up in a family with serious destructive patterns of behaviour. You might not know what safety and security in a home looks and feels like. You are not stuck in this pattern. Just because it has not been your experience in the past does not mean it cannot be in the future. Your church family should help you to see what love between people feels like and looks like. You can grow into new patterns of life.

This is one aspect of being part of a church family that is not spoken about as much as it should be. We are examples to one another. Do you want to know what it looks like to raise children in a Christian way? Look around in your church. Speak to those who have raised their children in a godly way for advice. Do you want to know how to live for Jesus in your workplace? Many around you in the local church have had to think about these issues before. Talk to them about it. We are not alone trying to figure out how to serve Jesus all by ourselves. God has given us a family to help us.

You can build new ways of living and honour God more than you have grown up doing. Ask God for help with this, and use the church family He has graciously given to you.