We got a post card last week from the pastor of a large church in our area. I think all of the St. Louis metro area received it. I snapped this picture.
The postcard looks more like a Macy's ad than a church mailing. The pastor's family is stylish, laughing, and quite simply . . . perfect.
I don't know this family. I'm sure they're great. I don't know anything about the church. I'm making no judgement about the ministry or why it was sent. But I will make a judgement on how it's received.
This picture portrays beautiful people. It gives the perception that the church is a place for "perfect families." And there will be two responses.
1.) "If I go there, my family will be perfect too."
2.) "My family's a mess. I don't belong there."
Far too often, Christians project "the perfect family" image.
Our families are great.
Our lives are put together.
Of course we fight occasionally, but we always make up by the end of the day.
This mirage is damaging in a world where so many families are broken and miserable. The holiday season only amplifies the warts and bruises. Hidden under the Christmas lights and garland are homes ruined by hatred, bitterness, and alienation.
We force a smile and manufacture holiday cheer. But's it's all a front. Under the superficial:
Let's look at another picture of a Christmas family. The "holy family" with a not-so-perfect start.
I'll offer no self-help or counseling advice for your "not-so-perfect family." Our situations are complex. People are messy.
The gospel is that this is precisely where Jesus arrives.
"I have come not to call the righteous, but sinners" (Matt. 9:13).
Our king wasn't born in a royal court, but a rugged cradle. Your "not-so-perfect family" is just where he's likely to turn up.