SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY (November 25, 2013)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” Galatians 5:22-26.
“SINCE WE LIVE BY THE SPIRIT, LET US KEEP IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT” Galatians 5:25 (NIV).
The FRUIT of the SPIRIT –
FAITHFULNESS to God in the Family
In the previous edition of Spiritual Nourishment for Today, we discussed the Christian’s faithfulness to God in the society. We made the point that Christians must remember that we are the salt and light of this world. Again, we must see ourselves in whatever field we find ourselves in as servants of God, pursuing what is good and shunning what is evil. The point was made that if all Christians serve in their fields as true servants of the Lord, the world could enjoy the ‘shalom’ of God. Therefore as Christian politicians, nurses, doctors, scientists, lab technicians, teachers, engineers, cooks, fashion designers, musicians, caregivers, social welfare officers, civil servants, bakers, etc. we should see ourselves as agents of Christ Jesus and seek to glorify God in all areas of life. In this edition, we want to pay more attention to the Christian’s faithfulness to God in relation to the family.
It is no gainsaying that everyone belongs to a family. This is very important because everyone was borne by someone and was born into a community. This is a depiction of the nature of God. God is ‘Elohim’, which is plural. It is a depiction of the communal nature of God in the person of the Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. During the time of creation, God made this statement: “Let us make man in our own image” (Genesis 1:26). The Bible continued to say that: “GOD CREATED MAN IN HIS OWN IMAGE, MALE AND FEMALE HE CREATED THEM.” In Genesis 2, as part of the explanation on how God created man, we also find the statement: “IT IS NOT GOOD FOR THE MAN TO BE ALONE” (v. 1). All these combine to give the understanding that man was created as a relational being-to relate with others of the society. We were not created to be alone but to be found among a community of people as relational beings. But the fall of man affected everything including human relationship. In this post-modern era, many people want to live alone or do things alone without caring so much about others.
The world is becoming more of an individualistic one than the communal one God created. This may have some benefits in certain cases but that is not the ideal way. God created us to live in a community and support each other emotionally, psychologically, financial, socially, physically and spiritual. This makes the family system a very important social structure. It is through the family that one’s emotional as well as the other important needs can be met. This means that faithful Christians should not only see themselves as members of the body of Christ alone, but the family as well. The devil, knowing the importance of the family system has now made it a target. He is doing everything possible to destroy the family structure which was instituted by God. But he can only succeed if we remain unfaithful!
In the world in which we live today, many people have not been faithful to God when it comes to our responsibilities and attitudes towards our family members. There are many Christians who have failed to be faithful towards their marriage partners. We are living in a world where divorce rates keep soaring every year, and most of the causes of divorce stem from unfaithfulness towards spouses. Many husbands and wives, some of whom are Christians, continue to cheat on their spouses by having extra marital affairs. This has become so rampant that many Christian women can no longer trust their husbands just as many Christian men cannot trust their wives. This has led to the breaking up of many marriages. This is not common among the ordinary members of the church, but also among the leadership of the church. If we cannot or are not being faithful in our marriages and relationships, how can we call ourselves faithful Christians? A faithful Christian knows that there is a covenant relationship between the two and should remain faithful to each other just as we MUST keep our covenant relationship with God. We all know the effects of unfaithfulness in marriages. Some of them are divorce, bad examples for children, waste of resources, sexually transmitted diseases etc. So unfaithfulness in marriage relationship is not only sinful against God, but also a destruction of our bodies which are temples of God. If Christian spouses are to remain faithful in their marriages, the ‘shalom’ of God will always rest upon their families and extend to the church and the society in general.
Unfaithfulness in marriage relationship has also led to the increasing number of street children. I am not saying that the street children we see every day all come from Christian homes, but we can also not deny the fact that Christian families cannot be exonerated from their contribution towards this social menace. This has also contributed to high crime rates, drug abuse and other negative phenomena in the society.
How about the Christian youth? Many Christian youth of today have failed to be faithful to God when it comes to God’s command to honor our parents. Apart from the Christian youth dishonoring our parents by disobeying them, we have also failed to take good care of them in their old age. We seem to be more concerned about ourselves and our new families than our original families. It is not wrong to spend your time and resources taking care of our spouses and children, but it is wrong, if not sinful, to neglect our parents when they need us. This is part of the effects of individualism in the world today. SOME CHRISTIANS NOW THINK THAT THE FAMILY IS JUST ABOUT YOU, YOUR PARTNER AND CHILDREN. This is entirely wrong. We are to take care of our needy and aged parents in the same way they took care of us when we could not do anything by our ourselves. Even if they neglected us at certain point in time, we should not pay back evil with evil, but with good because we are Christians.
Just as the Bible exhorts us to visit and take good care of orphans, widows etc, our aged parents should not be neglected no matter their condition. Why should you feel shy of your aged parents because of their health or other conditions? Why are so many people abandoning their aged and sick parents? Have we forgotten how weak and fragile we were when we were born? Have we forgotten that somebody took care of us when we needed help? Have we forgotten that they could have killed us? Have we forgotten that they are the people through whom God brought us into this world? I believe that if Christians should understand the family this way, and remain faithful to their children, spouses, parents and other members such as siblings and cousins etc by helping to meet each others’ needs, the world would be a better place to live.
I just want us to remind ourselves that as Christians we have responsibilities towards our nuclear and extended family members. We are to help build each other up spiritually emotionally and socially. We cannot shirk our responsibilities towards our family members and claim to be faithful to God. We cannot lie to our parents, maltreat them and refuse to take good care of them when they are in need and still claim to be faithful Christians. We also cannot fail to take care of the needs of our own children and spouses and claim to be faithful Christians. Finally we cannot maltreat our children or be unfaithful to our spouses and still claim to be faithful Christians. A faithful Christian is not only faithful to God in the Christian ministry or the society only. A faithful Christian must also be faithful in his or her family life as well.
I pray that the Lord will help all of us to remain to God by being faithful in the way we handle and deal with the people God has brought into our lives either social or blood ties.
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.