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the gospel and modern family

November 21, 2011

I like watching Modern Family. Last year, I was convinced it was one of the best shows on television. Although the writing has slipped a little this year, it is still worth seeing.

One of the things I like about the show is that it gives a pretty consistent picture of what grace in community can look like. Every week, there is generally a resolution that involves the extension of forgiveness and the embrace of others. What makes this embrace beautiful is that it is a movement towards those who are not only different—they are also far from perfect.

The show’s characters are all clichés. There is the goofy dad who tries too hard to be cool, the harried and under-appreciated mom, the gay couple complete with theater allusions, and the aging Baby Boomer with his trophy wife—a Colombian woman half his age.

The characters are also incredibly imperfect people.  Through a combination of their idiosyncrasies, poor decisions and garden-variety narcissism, the characters create various crises and relational problems.

But by the end of each episode, there is a real embrace of one another.  And this embrace goes beyond mere tolerance. Genuine joy is found through relationships with each other. I know, not everyone is crazy about the standard voiceovers at the end. But you can still appreciate the redemptive movement toward one another that is being played out consistently.

This is a great glimpse of the gospel. We are people who need grace. We actually are, at times, defined by some of the clichés we so often resist: the angry dad, the sullen teenager or the rudderless 20-something. We need grace to be accepted by God. We also need grace to be accepted by others. And grace goes beyond mere tolerance.  It crosses over into the territory of delight and joy.

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