What does the Bible say about families? We never did well with "family devotions," and I think Dad felt guilty about that. Church leaders kept telling us that it was crucial for a Christian home to have such a regular household gathering. We agreed with the principle, but we were never that organized.
Yet in a number of other ways, the Bible became a powerful part of our family life.
Approaching this Father's Day, I'm remembering the ways my father taught me to love the Bible, and still does. He will blush when he reads this, and he'll be the first to tell you that Mom was an equal partner in these matters.
1. He found joy in the Bible and celebrated it with us.
Dad taught me bad Bible jokes (shortest guy in the Bible? Knee-high-miah). He introduced me to quirky Bible characters (like Eutychus, who fell asleep during one of Paul's sermons and fell out a window). He found the humanity we shared with dozens of Bible characters—often turning serious scenes comic. (Surely it was a terrible moment when Moses confronted Aaron about the Golden Calf, but Aaron's excuse is all-too-familiar. "I threw the gold in the fire, and out came this calf!")
We weren't mocking Scripture; we were celebrating it. The Bible was our playground.
2. He took us to church.
It was not a perfect church (is there such a thing?), but it was where I learned Bible stories, memorized Bible verses, and heard Bible preaching. And we would talk about all this Bible content at the dinner table.
3. He understood that there were different interpretations of Scripture.
We learned to respect Christians who disagreed on one issue or another. It was important to see where people were coming from. We could debate the issue of predestination all day, and some people in our church did, but Dad found it important to keep the focus on Jesus and what he did for us.
4. He taught us to share the Bible's treasures in a humble way.
As a teenager, I already had a lot of Scripture in me. I could have been a terror, preaching in the high school hallways, haranguing classmates. But my parents gave me a sense of humility, of love. The Bible could never be weapon. It could never be a badge. It had to be lived out in the way of Jesus.
5. He kept learning about the Bible (and still does).
At age 86, Dad leads a weekly Bible study for residents of his retirement home. Every week he and I discuss the new insights he'll be sharing with them from the latest research and his own conjecture. (Recently he was wondering why so much of John's Gospel was set in Jerusalem. Was John perhaps the Judean sales rep for the Galilee-based Zebedee Fishing Company?) I'm still learning from him!
From groan-worthy jokes to ground-breaking theories, my father has played in that playground himself. God's truth has transformed him at a cellular level, and he has shared that freely with his family.
There are many things I can thank you for, Dad, but this is one of the most important. Thank you for teaching me to love the Bible, and the God who gave it to us.
What does the Bible say about families?
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