Seriously, would you not agree that there are moments in life that simply cry out for this expression? It sums up a surplus of emotions that rear their ugly heads when we do something completely stupid. It's during those moments we feel like the now beloved (and sometimes hated) family that put the "dys" in dysfunctional – The Simpsons. Apparently it took 18 years and 400 episodes, but the little town of Springfield has been transported into the big screen, and the opening question from producer Matt Groening is this:
What kind of sucker pays to see a movie of what he can get free at home?
As expected, the rest of the movie balances the usual formula of taking shots at corruption, corporate irresponsibility, and other social ills with one-liners and quips that are fired with rapid succession and deadly accuracy. And of course, Homer is the mouthpiece who sometimes expresses what we would love to say, but would never let out of our mouths.
I guess if you had to sum up and distill the essential elements of The Simpsons, it would come down to one word: family. As hyped up and messed up as they are, they find a way to stick together through the thick headedness of Homer and the thin bond of love that seems to hold them together.
Case in point from the movie: for a time Bart decides that Homer has forsaken his own son for a pig, and he seeks to be adopted by his next door neighbor Ned Flanders. Things eventually work out, but for a time you feel like this could be the final break-up of the Simpson family unit.
Speaking of family units, did you know that you and I are in the same one? No, I probably haven't even met your folks, but if you've trusted Christ for salvation, I know your heavenly Daddy. And if you haven't trusted Christ, I know who your father is as well (more on that later).
Here's how I know all this stuff: the Bible explains it in amazing and specific detail.
Jesus replied, "I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave of sin. A slave is not a permanent member of the family, but a son is part of the family forever. So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free. Yes, I realize that you are descendants of Abraham. And yet some of you are trying to kill me because there's no room in your hearts for my message. I am telling you what I saw when I was with my Father. But you are following the advice of your father."
"Our father is Abraham!" they declared.
"No," Jesus replied, "for if you were really the children of Abraham, you would follow his example. Instead, you are trying to kill me because I told you the truth, which I heard from God. Abraham never did such a thing. No, you are imitating your real father."
They replied, "We aren't illegitimate children! God himself is our true Father."
Jesus told them, "If God were your Father, you would love me, because I have come to you from God. I am not here on my own, but he sent me. Why can't you understand what I am saying? It's because you can't even hear me! For you are the children of your father the devil, and you love to do the evil things he does. He was a murderer from the beginning. He has always hated the truth, because there is no truth in him (John 8:34-44)
This is one of those "whoa!" type stories from the Bible, because it shows us a truth about life we don't usually want to process. Basically this is an "in your face" debate between Jesus and the prideful religious leaders of His day. Their argument was that they didn't need to listen to Jesus and follow Him because He was an illegitimate child (virgin birth – remember? But they didn't buy that one either).
So Jesus fires back the low down on how "family" works in a spiritual sort of way, and He makes it very simple.
As soon as you follow me, and you will be adopted by the Father into His family forever…BUT, as long as you reject me, and you will have Satan as your father.
So the bad news is that those who've rejected Christ literally have the dad from hell, but those who have trusted Christ are adopted into a new family with a new Daddy who will never leave us or forsake us. What Jesus is doing here is getting their attention by pointing out the consequences of rejecting Him. While it is true that God created us and loves us, at the same time when we turn our back on His offer of salvation, we follow the pattern of Satan … kind of a "like father, like son" sort of thing.
So which family are you in? If Satan is your father (i.e. you are turning your back on God), I guarantee the dysfunction in that family makes the Simpsons look like poster children for a Christian organization. And if you've been adopted into God's family, don't let your former father whisper in your ear that your heavenly Father will ever ditch you or turn His back on you.
And, my brother or sister, if you do find yourself believing the devil's lie that God is a fickle Father whose emotions change as fast as Homer Simpson's…look in the mirror and repeat after me:
Lane Palmer is the Youth Ministries Specialist for Dare 2 Share Ministries in Arvada, Colo., where he works with to provide resources for youth leaders and students. Dare 2 Share exists to energize and equip teens to know, live, share and own their faith in Jesus. For more information on Dare 2 Share Ministries or the GameDay youth conference tour, please visit www.dare2share.org. Send feedback to email@example.com.