In a previous post we discussed the fact that making disciples of all nations was the key to world transformation. But where does that process begin? Do we develop a program in church and have people sign-up? Do we incorporate it into our youth ministry? Maybe we should get a bunch of new recruits and start with them. While all these options may have merit, the starting place is more basic still.
It Begins Where God Began
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them. Genesis 1:26 – 27 ESV
When this whole thing began, God didn’t start by building a church or a nation. He started by creating a man and a woman who had within themselves the capability of producing offspring. In other words, God started with a family. Family, then, is the basic unit of society. Think about it. What is a church but a group of families that worship together? What is a nation but a group of families that share a common heritage or hold common ideologies? And because family is the foundation of society, the family is where discipleship needs to begin.
Every Marriage a Picture
Every marriage relationship between a man and a woman is to be a picture of the relationship between Christ and His people. That is why the apostle Paul write in Ephesians 5:22 – 27,
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. ESV
If husbands and wives were discipled to live under the rule of Christ, and then discipled to live out that relationship toward one another, it would look exactly like Paul outlines it here. Imagine the impact it would have! Homes would quickly fall into order and the divorce rate in the church would quickly decline. But it will never happen simply be putting couples through 5 or 6 pre-marital counseling classes. Couples have to be discipled to live out their relationship with one another under the Reign of God.
Paul writes a further admonition in Ephesians 6:4.
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. ESV
Good kids are not born, they are raised. Parents in the church have got to stop thinking that their kids will turn out all right because they take them to Sunday School and mid-week kid’s club. Children have to be discipled in the way of the Lord. That doesn’t mean preaching at them or beating them over the head with the Bible every time they turn around. Above everything else it means Mom and Dad living under God’s Reign themselves at home, at work, and church, and in the world. Any teaching they do is then merely an explanation as to why they do what they do. The Kingdom of God must be the atmosphere kids grow up with in their home.
Transformed families will transform the world. Transformed families will once again give credibility to the message of the Gospel. O God, may it be! May Your Kingdom come, and Your will be done in our families, even as it is in Heaven. May our families become a microcosm of what life really looks like when we are living in the Reign. Amen.