Imagine being a young husband who just brought home from the hospital a wife with a brand new baby. You yourself had grown up with a father who was an irresponsible alcoholic, neglecting and abusing you as a child, so you have no idea what a godly father even looks like, much less how he functions in the family.
How do you learn what to do with this brand new little creature you and your wife have just brought into the world, and for which you are totally responsible? For that matter, how do you even know how to be a husband, much less a father, since you had absolutely no example you can now follow as one yourself.
Being a father is not a casual enterprise. The difficulties one faces in life as an adult, and we as a culture face as a nation, lie largely at the feet of broken families who don’t even realize that God has a comprehensive plan for them to follow to grow and function, if they just knew and implemented that plan. Once we see God’s eternal purpose for ourselves, our natural, primary response is to impart that purpose to our children—IF they are ready and open to receive it.
As Hamlet said, “Aye, there’s the rub!,” i.e., how do we solve this seemingly insurmountable difficulty of not having children who listen to and follow us?
Here’s the solution for our woefully inadequate new father: the Bible tells us that the answer to his problem is the church, whose primary job is “equipping the saints for the work of ministry” (Ephesians 4:12). In this young father’s case, the particular “equipping” he desperately needs is how to “minister” to his family as an effective husband and father! In today’s world, the church is his only hope.
How are we, as the church, doing in this particular equipping task with our young families? It is not a casual enterprise. The church is one of the God-ordained institutions He created to extend His kingdom over the earth, along with the family and civil government. Our young man in the above example has nowhere else to go for help. Our whole culture, and the very existence of our nation, hang in the balance!
Yet many churches, if not most, are focused on growth—getting more people in the doors of the church—and then getting them saved while they are there! As we have seen in previous postings, this is the job that the individual church members will do—naturally, spontaneously and unconsciously—as they live in the world all week, just doing their thing. This is the job of “the church scattered.”.
The once-a-week church meetings (“the church gathered”), on the other hand, are “family gatherings,” where the church family corporately meets to be equipped and to worship and adore together our Heavenly Father, who has gloriously saved us. Those meetings are not to evangelize. That is a misuse of precious “equipping time!” What biblical truth does the church impart as it goes about its task of equipping its members to function in their individual families?
It must begin with looking at how a husband relates to his wife, followed by biblical principles of child training. These are tremendously important for all the church, not just those who happen to notice a midweek class announced in the church bulletin for those interested in “marital assistance” or “child training.” Without a church-wide concentration on absorbing the biblical truth about these issues, none of our men will ever become powerful, effective fathers who strike fear in Satan’s heart.
Of initial and primary importance is how a man relates to his wife. We are called to do two (seemingly disparate) main things in our relationships with our wives. We are called to 1.) love them and to 2.) lead them.
Next week I want to begin to carefully examine those two foundation stones for a man’s family and all its activities. We will only touch the highlights, but for those of you who are interested in more depth, my book, The Family – God’s Weapon for Victory is a comprehensive compendium of the biblical family in all its aspects. It is available now free in PDF form, as are all my books (find them listed on my website). Let me know via email if you are interested.