The intriguing title had to do with developing faith and I idly picked the book up and glanced at some chapter heads. It was a book that had to do with growing important Christian qualities in our kids – a subject we all should be interested in. In fact, it helps a lot to know how we can better develop the qualities in ourselves. And since “without faith it is impossible to be well pleasing to Him,” growing it in ourselves is also important. I was a little surprised, although I shouldn’t have been, to see one chapter dedicated to the importance of the family having meals together.
The family meal is a disappearing American tradition. We probably would be surprised to know how deeply its disappearance reaches into many of our other problems.
One man told of a custom in his family of each member quoting a scripture before the meal was begun. A psychologist spoke of having each member tell of some good things that had happened that day. The meal together was a time of bonding and drawing closer to each other within the family. It was a time when values and priorities were imparted to our children. From the conversations, the importance of faith, honesty, love for God and fair treatment and benevolence for our neighbor were passed to our children. Even discipline was taught. My mother used to speak of the thumps on the head administered by my grandfather when she or her siblings became too rowdy at the table which was not very often after one thump. The authority of my grandfather might be considered autocratic now, but it produced children that all had respect for authority and were law abiding and decent. Does our “enlightened” system do as well?
Today, each member of the family grabs a different snack and heads for a different area – the T.V., the bedroom, the den, even the car. And often, even at different times. A preacher friend said, “When I moved to the city, one of the amazing things was that families didn’t have a specific time to eat. Everybody ate something different and at different times.”
A national symbol might be the broken circle – the family circle. The Christian and the Church must get involved in welding the circle’s ends together again. God is the author of the home. It came into existence by His will and it is maintained in a healthy condition by following His directions.
By treating symptoms and ignoring sources, we only multiply the need for more help for the symptoms – more counselors, more reform schools, more prisons, and more mental institutions. John the Baptist’s advice could help – “apply the axe to the root of the tree.”