A few weeks ago Melissa and I ministered at a church with some friends. During worship, and even some time before, we felt strongly that the Lord wanted to help marriages and families. I love the way that God speaks through His people. Every person on our team sensed the same direction and spoke on different aspects: kids, marriage, family, fathers, mothers, the fatherless and the widowed. It was as though a single message came out of a group of people singing in harmony – one heart, one mind, and one spirit. Family isn’t just an important thing, it is everything.
Inspired by Ephesians 5, I spoke about why strong, healthy marriages and families are so important. Paul addresses families in the church at Ephesus. While I know many men like to quote verse 22, reminding women that they should submit to their husbands (don’t get me started on that!), I am surprised they don’t start reading one verse sooner. “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” Literally EVERYTHING we do hinges on that.
Submit to One Another
It is easy to want others to submit to us. But it takes an entirely different character – that of God Himself – to submit to others first. After all, God exemplified this in the greatest way possible by sending Jesus to die for our sins. Submitting to one another and preferring each other would be an incredible challenge, had it not been for what He did by empowering us with His Spirit. But why is submission so crucial? Why are families so important to God?
Paul painted a picture for us: wives and husbands, Christ and the Church. The love and preference shown by husbands to their wives, and the honor and respect expressed by wives to their husbands, together form the perfect expression of Jesus and His relationship with the Church on this earth. “This is a profound mystery,” he says. Marriage is designed so that this mystery can be exemplified in the earth, for everyone to see. Without this example, it would remain a mystery.
It’s More than Marriage
But this message goes even further than husbands and wives. “He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents.” The entire family is supposed to be a picture of this unity. Our families are bound together when we all choose to walk in the way of love, and lay down our own preferences to see one another succeed. And this love stretches further still, and draws others to our family. We live out the example as fathers to the fatherless and defenders of widows, as God sets the lonely in families. No one ever has to be alone.
So goes the marriage, so goes the family. So goes the family, so goes the Church. So goes the Church, so goes the city, state, nation and world.
As for our family, we have set ourselves on a course to consistently prefer and honor one another. We create a household of peace and unity to be a demonstration to others. We’re not perfect, but we are heading the right direction. We choose to grow together rather than apart. And as our family grows, we can connect and link arms with our friends and other families. In doing so, we create a community and culture where the mystery of Christ is revealed.