Are all good homes alike? Is there a mould in which they are cast or a set of parts out of which they are built? And, if so, do we simply set it up and let it look after itself? No, life is never like that.

But there are family likenesses, marks of identification, things held in common by good homes. It is impossible to run a Christian home without Christ or without the Guidebook. It is little use trying to teach children the priceless value of the gospel if we ourselves are lukewarm, more interested in this life than eternity, slapdash in our service, fitful in our attendance. We need to be committed, warm and loving, full-hearted and gracious.

At present you may be a teenager in your family home. What contribution do you make to the smooth running of the home? Or do you rebel or disrupt or opt out? If so, are you truly happy?

The Family is Alive

Families are different because people are different. Every person is unique and so is every family. As husband and wife have to learn to adjust to one another, so the members of the whole family have to accommodate the varieties of personality within it.

Everyone needs breathing space; room in which to develop. It is up to the parents to seek to remove artificial restrictions and unhelpful habits. Rules for the sake of rules are foreign to life in Christ. Rules for Christ’s sake are an entirely different matter.

We must have Christ as the centre of the family. He must not be crowded out or be shamed by our behavior or conversation. Could we really welcome him t o some of the television programmes or the videos we watch? Would we really expect him to be there whilst we quarrel? Or speak evil of other people?

However small our garden, all of us have seen plants or trees which have become misshapen because of lack of nourishment or by being restricted by rivals in the same patch. So it is with children. They are living things and require light, air, food, water for body and for mind. If young people are regularly exposed to vile and offensive practices such as the media provide, or are allowed to choose such things, the results are likely to be disastrous.

Let Them Choose!

Here is the paradox. Man is always likely to choose what pleases him and we know that “it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps”. Man inevitably gets lost if left to himself. Look at our world today and the evidence is abundant. All rules and codes of behaviour are under direct threat. And the world is full of misery.

Therefore, as teenagers or young people, or as young married people, we have to choose between being lost or “seeking the Lord while he may be found”. Bluntly, it is perdition or salvation. John 3:16, the best known verse in the Bible, presents the choice – to perish or to enjoy eternal life.

Discipline is simply bringing right principles to bear upon daily living. We have a choice – self or Christ. But how can we impose Christ on our children before they are old enough to make a choice for themselves? They may not be able to make their final choice, but nevertheless they are making choices all the time. Discipline directs choice into clean, wholesome, healthy channels. Otherwise, life will be sucked into the stream of worldliness around us.

How to Choose

As parents we are not to ram ‘spiritual food’ down the throats of unwilling children. We have to make good standards inviting and worthwhile. Parents are to be examples of what is best. The Christ our children know is the Christ they meet at home. We don’t want our children to say: ‘Don’t talk Jesus to me, what you are shouts too loud’.

Nor do we want the normal happiness of children to be stifled by sterile morality. Our individualities, our personalities, have to be allowed full expression, but not to the injury of other members of the family or to the abuse of the word of God and His Son.

Our minds and bodies were made by God and He knows what is best for them. It is foolish or presumptuous to think otherwise. From our earliest years therefore it is good to know the will of God as it applies to everyday things and, ultimately, to our eternal destiny. As young people and as parents, we need to choose what is best and to make it plain where we stand.

Sometimes as young people we deliberately want to choose what Christ says is not good for us. There are two things to be said: the first is that there is nothing more perilous than to despise the word of Christ; and the second is that when we are at home we are to be subject to the general discipline of the home. What we choose to do when we are independent and responsible individuals is another matter. But the facts will remain: Christ knows best and if we think otherwise we shall be proved wrong.

How to Like Discipline

The rebelliousness of human nature, its selfcentredness, is hard to cope with. It is useless to dwell on negatives. Thirst is not satisfied by reading the label: ‘Poison – do not drink’. We need to move to higher ground and get a wider perspective. There are things that make for happiness and here are three of them:

  1. Read the Sermon on the Mount.
  2. Read 1 Corinthians 13 and practise at least one part of it every day.
  3. Read Galatians 5:19-23 and decide which of the two kinds of people so described you would like to be or like to marry.

A useful book to read is The Greatest Thing in the World by Henry Drummond (not a Christadelphian). If you have difficulty in self-discipline, you will find prayer a great help. Keep Jesus in view and walk behind him.