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I think most people in this world would agree with Dominic Toretto when he said, ‘The most important thing in your life will always be family’ (from the Fast and Furious movies)
God created family, of course. Right at the beginning He created marriage between a man and a woman. And it was meant to be an inseparable bond. Sadly, sin stained the world and we have continued to live in a broken world ever since. People mess up, and marriages become less than perfect or break up completely.
However, in Jesus, there is always grace and forgiveness. New beginnings. God’s heart has always been to join people in families and to see family life flourish. In this context, children are a gift and a blessing. But also a responsibility.
Does God have a purpose in creating families? Emphatically, Yes! Let me suggest three ways.
First, families are the vehicle God has chosen to pass on His truth and stories to the next generation. “These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deut 6: 6 – 7). How will the next generation know about God unless they are told – unless they are taught? And, unless it is modelled for them.
Second, families were designed to reveal God’s love to a dying world. The way we ‘do’ family will speak to those around us. “A new command I give you”, said Jesus: “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13: 34 – 35).
Third, families are a training ground to equip the next generation to serve God. We may have young or older children at home; we may have nieces or nephews or cousins or grandchildren. If they are not yet adults, they are on loan to us for a season, and that season will pass quickly! So, in that short time, how are we teaching them to serve the Lord? How are we equipping them to be servants that bless those around them?
A lot of people in today’s world choose churches that have a flourishing Sunday school or a great youth program. They look for what will serve their children best. Here’s an alternative idea: How about looking for a church that needs help? How about choosing a church where the whole family can learn to serve? How about teaching your children to put God first by joining a church family where they can begin to use their gifts to meet a need there?
As much as I love the Fast and Furious movies, I think Dominic Toretto was wrong. The most important thing isn’t family; the most important thing is that we teach our families to pass on truth, love God and serve Him, and love and serve those around us.
Suggested prayer: Who are the ‘young ones’ in your immediate family and wider family? Are they being taught to pass on truth, love and serve? Take a moment to think about each one and pray for them. Pray that they will know God through faith in Jesus Christ and pray that they will learn to serve Him and His purposes from an early age.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Terry Nightingale is a pastor serving in the southern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia, having previously worked in Christian education both in the UK and Perth. He graduated from Vose Seminary with a Masters in Divinity in 2016. He loves sharing the Gospel and teaching the Word of God.
Terry and Sue arrived in Australia in 2003 from the UK for a 1-year adventure. They never returned! The beaches, the sun and God’s call upon their lives persuaded them to settle in the land ‘down-under’. Today they have two grown-up children both married, with four grandchildren and counting.
Terry writes a popular weekly blog at terrynightingale.com called ‘4-minute Devotions’, short Bible -centred messages for the busy Christian on the go. He also writes Christian worship music and plays the guitar.
Looking Back to Move Forward is his first non-fiction book for Christian leaders – in fact for anyone who occasionally faces discouragement or setbacks. His second book, based on his blog, is entitled Bite-size devotions for the busy Christian.