In my mind this word conjures up scenes of family members around a dining room table. On that table sits a roast turkey, giblet gravy, mom’s homemade dressing, sweet potatoes, and grandma’s hot pecan pie. A thanksgiving prayer is said unto our Creator for the bounteous blessings he bestows upon us daily. A blessing is requested for those family members not able to be with us. And in that prayer, thanks is given for each family represented around the table.
Family values. Every one seems to claim them, yet not many seem to have them. I remember my mother taking my sister and me to the park. She taught us to read and write. She taught us to use our imagination and be creative. She taught us to be kind to our fellow man and have compassion on the weak. My father imparted to us the values of hard work, sacrifice, and discipline. He taught us how to live in the real world. He ingrained in us the important lessons of paying the bills on time and being honest with all men. Integrity, determination, and patience were his daily instruction to us. Above this, my father taught us what it really means to love. The sacrifice, devotion, and steadfastness which he had toward us in everything, showed his love for the family. Most importantly, mom and dad taught us spiritual values: to pray, read the Bible, and give praises unto the Sovereign Ruler of the universe.
Sadly, many families are not as fortunate as the one in which I was reared. The children grow up with no father to give them fatherly lessons. Their mother is off working, having little time to give her children. Or perhaps their father has abandoned them, and their mother collects a welfare check, not having the skills necessary to obtain a job. Some do not even have that much; the children are raised malnourished and hungry. Consequently, they grow up without family values. They join gangs to get a sense of what it is like to be in a family. They sell drugs because they think it is a quick way to a better lifestyle with little work. And some simply murder for money.
Now, let’s be honest with ourselves. Which of these two family scenarios do we want? Do we want our children to be nurtured by a loving father and mother? Or do we want them hungry, not knowing from where their next meal is coming? Do we want them to know compassion and kindness toward their fellow man? Or do we want them involved in crime and murder? Do we want them to pray for the welfare of their kindred ones? Or do we want them devising plots whereby they can revenge those who have wronged them? We know what family values are, but is there a way my children can learn these things? Is there a place I can find these values taught and practiced? There is a place. This place is within the family of God.
In this family, God is our loving Father and we are his children. “Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we dare” (1 John 3:1). Since we are God’s children, we are brothers and sisters and we love each other as such. For “we know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brethren” (1 John 3:14). We became God’s children through the suffering and death of our older brother Jesus the Christ. “For it became him (God), for whom are all things and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the author of their salvation (Jesus) perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth (Jesus) and they that are sanctified (God’s children) are all of one: for which cause he (Jesus) is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:10,11). God is our Father; we are his children; Jesus is our brother, and we are all brothers and sisters through love. This is God’s family.
The New Testament tells us how to get along as God’s family and add new members to our family. It tells us how to behave as a household. One of Jesus’ apostles wrote, “…how men ought to behave themselves in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). The family, or house of God, is the church; and God has given His Son, Jesus, “…to be head over all things to the church which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.” Thus, God’s church is the church of Christ.
The church of Christ is a family of people who have been called out of the evils of the world. They strive to have a loving family relationship, not a relationship that is built upon mistrust and selfishness. Each father strives to raise his children “…in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4), not to come home intoxicated and take out his frustrations on his family. Each wife/mother strives “…to love their husbands, to love their children, to be discreet, chaste, keepers at home” (Titus 2:4, 5), not to be full of selfish ambition in a career while ignoring the needs of her family to be loved and nourished. The children strive to “…obey their parents in the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1), not to run around with friends who corrupt their minds to steal or sell drugs.
The church of Christ is a family of people who have been called out of darkness into God’s light. “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light” (1 Peter 2:9). They show forth his praises in worship: by “…singing with grace in their hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16), not by playing pianos; by praying to their Father and asking for guidance and forgiveness; by giving “Upon the first day of the week,” as God has prospered him? (1 Corinthians 16:1,2); by partaking of the emblems of Jesus’ death, unleavened bread representing his body, grape juice representing his blood (1 Corinthians 11:23-28); and by letting God speak to them through the study of the Bible. These are the ways they worship God.
The church of Christ is a family of people who have been called unto the Christ. They have heard the message of Christ. They have believed this message and trusted in Christ. They have repented of their worldly sins which once controlled them against Christ. They have confessed that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God. And, they have been baptized into Christ, into the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, that they should no longer walk in sin, but being made new should live unto Christ (Romans 6:1-11). They are then added to the family of Christ and are accepted by the Father into the church of Christ there to be loved by their brethren in Christ. Family values come from the most valuable family-God’s family, Christ’s family, Christ’s church, the church of Christ.
At the church of Christ, we are a family of believers striving to do what God wants us to do in worship and service to Him. You can be part of God’s family today. Please talk with someone from the church of Christ. They can help your family be part of God’s family.