Big Idea: Jesus' love for us is bigger than any fights we have with each other!
Parent Prep: Child psychologists use the phrase 'rupture and repair' when talking about the natural conflict we have in relationships. Even healthy relationships with the people we love include disagreements. The disharmony that comes from conflict is called the 'rupture'. But when both parties in the relationship are willing to work together to reconcile, we have the 'repair'. To 'rupture and repair' is the process of gospel reconciliation. It's what Jesus did for us. He repaired what we ruptured by our sin, and reconciled us to God. In the parent-child relationship, it is the parent who does the 'repairing' work; helping the child to be calm, and think through how to forgive, confess, understand and be united together again. As we model this gracious and loving work of 'repair' in relationships with our children, we remind them of the assurance of our love for them – that nothing they rupture is too big or too bad for us to forgive. In turn, we aim for them to learn the art of reconciliation, in showing grace to others, too. In the process of 'rupture and repair', psychologists observe that often, after a truly gracious healing work of 'repair', a relationship reaches a new level of depth. This, too, is a reflection of the gospel. When we realise how much we are forgiven, we reach a new level of depth of love for our Saviour. This love then, overflows to others as we learn to forgive and repair our relationships with them in light of our own forgiveness.
Read Philippians 4:1-3 together in a children's Bible, or this easy-to-read version here.
Have you ever had a big fight with your brother or sister? Choose an example to talk through as a family. What made it hard to forgive the other person? What made you want to stay mad at them? What did you do to fix the problem?
Paul writes to 2 of his friends.
1) He talks about how much he loves them because they also love Jesus.
2) He points out that all his friends who love Jesus – even the two who are fighting- are going to be together for all of eternity because of what Jesus has done. So with that in mind,
3) He pleads with his friends to not be on two different sides of an argument, but to be on the same side, following Jesus together. Fighting for each other and for the gospel, not against each other. Jesus' love for us is so great, and we have been forgiven even though we have caused our God so much hurt, how can we not forgive each other for the hurt they cause us?
Before Jesus goes to the cross and dies for his friends, he actually prays this for His friends, too. Jesus says, "Holy Father, keep them safe by the power of your name—the name you gave me. Then they will be one, just as you and I are one. " Jesus wants us – his followers- to be on the same side, fighting for each other, not against each other. You can read this together in John 17:11.
This week, take the opportunity to call out and encourage when you see your kids 'fighting for each other'. This could look like choosing to share or be generous when they could keep something to themselves. It could mean letting another child go before them when making a choice, or using kind words to encourage each other. Each time it happens, notice it and help kids recognise what it looks like to 'fight for eachother' or 'be on the same side' as Paul talks about. Encourage kids to also call it out when they see it happening, so that they can look for it too.
Consider making a chart for the week while you're on holidays. For every time you see family members 'fighting for each other', put a gold star or smiley face on the chart (be generous with your stars!). Every time family members fight 'against each other', use a different coloured sticker. At the end of the week, use your chart to talk about whether it was easy or hard to fight for/against each other. (It doesn't matter how many of each sticker colour there is – it's school holidays! It will give you a great chance to talk about this week's devotion!) Reflect together on how it felt when someone was fighting for you instead of against you. If there is still hurt, anger or bitterness between any family members, use the time to pray together and ask Jesus to remind you of His love so you can forgive one another. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you 'be on the same side' and fight for each other in the Name of Jesus.
Have a great week!