GRAPEVINE, Texas (BP) -- The biblical understanding that Christians have been crucified with Christ liberates them to love their families genuinely, Russell Moore said Thursday (Oct. 11) at the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission's fifth annual national conference.
Moore, the ERLC's president, delivered the opening address to about 950 people gathered for "The Cross-shaped Family," the entity's 2018 conference at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. The three-day event will conclude Oct. 13.
"What Jesus walked through without sin is exactly what every single one of us will walk through in some way or other, and a lot of that will have to do with our lives in terms of our families," Moore told the audience in a message based on the Matthew 3 and 4 accounts of Jesus' baptism and temptation by Satan.
"And unless we see that the Christian life is defined by the cross, then we are going to fall for the devil's offers because we are going to expect our families to bear a burden they cannot bear." Moore said. "Instead though, if you ground your identity and your inheritance not in your family but in the cross, if you see yourself as crucified with Christ, if you -- as Jesus tells us -- find your lives only by losing them, then you are actually freed to love your family."
Moore -- whose new book, "The Storm-tossed Family: How the Cross Reshapes the Home," was released in September -– said John's baptism of Jesus was "weird and odd and disorienting" for all those who witnessed it because it represented repentance.
In His baptism, Jesus is "identifying Himself with us," Moore said. "He is no sinner, but we are. And when Jesus says, 'Come follow Me,' He tells us over and over and over again, 'That means taking up your cross and walking forward.' Brothers and sisters, that includes our family lives."
Ingratitude, wrong expectations and fear can undercut Christians in their families, Moore told the audience.
"We can wreck our lives by not seeing the joy and blessing that God has given to us in our families," he said, "and we can wreck our lives by making family so ultimate that we spend our lives chasing after an idealized picture to the extent that we cannot love the family right in front of us."
Some in the audience "are blocked from the joy of loving your families right now because of fear," Moore said.
A Christian does not resolve fear by believing "awful things" will not happen in the family, he said. "The fear is resolved by the fact that you already have been through [being judged in Christ's death], and now you have the freedom through the Spirit to love the family that you have."
Following rules is not the path to a successful family, Moore stated.
"The idea of family as being something that if we just follow the right steps we're going to be able to carry those things out -- and we're going to have perfect tranquility in our marriages or in our child-rearing or in our extended families or in our church family -- is a recipe for absolute disaster," he said. "Instead, what the Bible calls us to is spiritual warfare."
Every aspect of home life is difficult because "family is designed to take you outside of your illusions of control" to a place where a person has no control, Moore said. "But guess what? That is exactly what the cross does."