Being a parent often means finding yourself in the middle of funny experiences and teachable moments with your children. Sometimes we as parents can learn more from these situations than our kids. God always surrounds us with important life lessons wrapped in simple things. One of these lessons can be found in a little round cookie. I have noticed my oldest daughter Olivia’s greatest joy is found in the center of an Oreo cookie. She only eats the cream in the middle. This may seem wasteful to some but if we look closer there is a powerful spiritual analogy lying inside. My little girl has chosen to focus on the sweetness at the center. Many of us as Christian parents pursue being at the center of God’s will in our individual lives, and we should. Yet how many of us realize that it is intertwined with God dwelling in the middle of our families? How are we building a Theo-centric home? How have we forgotten to taste the true sweetness at the center of life?
To answer these questions, first we must have a word about Theocentric. It is taken from two words, Theos (the Greek word for God) and centric (meaning in or at the center). Theocentric is a fancy word meaning God-centered. Our parent and family support team for Children’s Chapel and Youth Ministries works in conjunction with all of the adult ministries of Ebenezer towards the goal of building a theocentric home. The family has been the bedrock of all civilizations since the beginning of human history. Even with this fact, different civilizations have held different understandings and expressions of family. The cultural understanding has also evolved over time. Some cultures are matriarchal, while others are patriarchal. Some family structures include only a nuclear family living under the same roof, while others include extended family members across multiple generations and sites. The basic similarities found in families across the globe far outweigh any difference in geography, race, culture or socio-economic status. Whether developed from African, Western or Eastern perspectives, the family is designed to supply provision and protection (which ultimately lead to perpetuity). Adding to this foundation the Christian approach to family has a counter-cultural and theocentric focus. The Christian concept of family looks to God as the source of provision and protection that leads to perpetuity in this life and beyond.
For a family to sufficiently support the circle of life it must itself be supported. The Family Support Team of Children’s Chapel and Youth Ministries exists to offer support for the 21st century family living in a pluralistic society. Our purpose is to affect how we (the families of Ebenezer) model a Christian family. We aspire to exhibit the Christian concept of family to the Glory of God at all times and in all places (home, community, church and the world). As Christian families, we are called to lead a different kind of life. We are neither inherently better, nor intrinsically more valuable than other families. Whatever we presently are or will become is due to grace of God. It is through this transforming grace that we put our trust and confidence in God. Being holy is not principally about mere intellectual assent to culturally set moral standards (morality surely plays a large role in our distinction as Christian families). Our ultimate goal is to glorify God through serving humanity as Christ taught in Word, lived in deed, died for our salvation and rose again for our liberation. This is as needed for families in a twenty-first century pluralistic society as it was for the disciples living in the pluralistic first century society.
Scripture teaches us about a circle of love that God enacted to create a new kind of community. Jesus’ commandment to love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength is inextricably tied to his commandment to love your neighbor as yourself. In Luke’s Gospel (10:25-37), Jesus is approached by an expert in religious law hoping to put Jesus on trial in the court of public opinion. The religious lawyer asks, “And who is my neighbor?” To answer his question, Jesus tells parable of the Good Samaritan. This story told of a Jew who after being robbed and beaten was ignored by two fellow Jews (who were religious leaders). However, he was saved by a helpful Samaritan (who he would have seen as a stranger, enemy and a heathen). In concluding, Jesus asks, “Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” The religious expert is left with no other option but to answer, “The one who showed him mercy.” Jesus’ final reply is “You go, and do likewise.” Being God-centered is not about how religious we are. Having a Theocentric home is not about making the parents, children or any other family member the center of the home. Making God the center of our homes requires us to turn towards God. As we turn toward Christ, the focus changes from who we are as individual family members to both who we are becoming in Christ and what we are doing for Christ. The end goal of a Theocentric home is to glorify God in who we become by serving humanity in what we do.
Having a Theocentric home is as much about building God’s kingdom as it is about building your home, because God sees the two as connected. God desires that your family be a part of God’s family. God desires that your child also be known as a child of God. God feels this way because God is a Father who longs to be surrounded by His children in a Theocentric home. It is a home where we surround those on the outside and serve humanity as Good Samaritans. A Theocentric home is a family that shows its children how to discover the sweetness at the center.
By Daniel J. James, L.I.N.K.S. Parent and Family Support