Now the birth of Jesus was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Matthew 1:18
Imagine with me for a moment, Jesus, the only Son of God, was:
- The child of an “unplanned” pregnancy.
- Conceived to an unmarried teenage girl.
- And raised by another man other than His biological Father.
In our society today, it’s a common occurrence for children to be raised in a step family or with a step parent. And while it may have never been God’s original plan for the family, God is using churches today that are full of step families to accomplish His work and raise up the next generation for Christ.
“In 2011, the Family Research Council found that only 46% of children in the United States will reach the age of 17 living in intact homes with both biological parents. This same statistic was reflected in 2014, when the Pew Research Center also found only 46 percent of children were currently living in a home with both biological parents.”
While those statistics are unfortunate, they are reality. And this raises a very legitimate question for the church… If over half of families today are made up of something other traditional biological families, how is that reflected in the people we are reaching in our churches? Are we reaching, welcoming, and helping these step families that enter our doors? Because nearly half of families who visit our church will fit into that category.
May we never look down upon them, judge them, or treat them differently than any other family in our church. Have they made mistakes? Yes. Would they go back and do some things differently? Probably. Can they reverse time and change the past? No. Is there baggage that has to be worked through? Oftentimes. Can we love them unconditionally right where they are? Yes. Can they be used in ministry to advance the kingdom of God? Absolutely. Are their children any less important to God? No.
And may I say this very clearly and understandably – broken homes, step families, and the children of them, ARE NOT second rate to God, and should not be treated as second rate in the church.
What is the church about? Well, it’s a place where broken people get restored, sinners are given second chances, and all are allowed time and space to heal… from their sin, their past, and their failures, no matter what it involves.
Consider a couple of note-worthy things about step families from Jesus’ family:
- Jesus’ step-father was a godly man who loved the Lord and loved Him. Joseph raised Jesus like He was his own. He trained Him, taught Him, loved Him, and no doubt helped Him to become the man’s man that He was. Joseph was the picture of what many parents portray in the church today – godly men and women raising kids not their own, and absolutely killin’ it in the process, raising some amazingly God-loving kids.
- A pregnant teenage girl gave birth to the Son of God. God works in mysterious ways, and oftentimes through seemingly bad circumstances. The same is still true today. Remember this, “A mistake on the part of a parent never makes their child a mistake in the eyes of God.”
- A step-parent raised the only perfect kid ever. Certainly, Joseph had a slight advantage, raising the only perfect Son of God, but he proved that IT IS POSSIBLE to parent successfully as a step-parent.
- God used a step-child to change the world. While the surrounding circumstances were certainly different than in families today, consider this thought… God used the child of a pregnant teenage girl, and who was raised by a step-father… to save the entire human race. And God is still using kids from all family types to make a difference in His kingdom today.
If you are a member of a Bible-believing church, I hope that these thoughts will remind you to be aware of both the needs and potential of the step families within your church.
And if you are a parent with a broken marriage, a second marriage, or filling another parent’s shoes as a step-parent, I hope that these words encourage you. I also hope that they challenge you, and remind you that God’s greatest work ever accomplished in the world came through an “untraditional” family – a family that was yielded to Him and committed to the process of godly parenting, regardless of their circumstances.
No doubt, what God has called you to in this season of your life has its own unique set of challenges that some of us may never fully understand, but please know that I am praying for you today. Praying that God would give you strength, stamina, and the spirit of a Joseph or a Mary for the specific situations that you face.
God loves you, the church loves you, and we desperately need your help to raise the next generation of world-changers!