If you believe in God, and more specifically in Christ, you live in the midst of a spiritual war. If you’re serious about living a godly life, defined by kingdom values and empowered by the gospel then you will run up against the world, the flesh and the devil. That’s just reality. The world constantly seeks to shape your values and your view of right and wrong (often called “political correctness”). These values and views are built on presupposed truths that differ from those of the believer in Christ. At the same time our flesh is weak when it comes to resisting immediate pleasures, even though they threaten long-term contentment and joy. As if things weren’t hard enough in this spiritual battle, the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8), preferably someone seeking to live a godly life! So, you’re in the midst of a spiritual battle.
The good news is that God doesn’t call you to be an isolated soldier behind enemy lines. He puts you in a family.
The Family at Home
In the immediate sense, the father is called to lead the family, parents are called to raise their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, and children are called to honor their parents through obedience (Ephesians 6:1-4). These aren’t just rules that God lays on you. They are the means of preserving you and empowering you for the spiritual battle we face. This is why the psalmist writes as he does in Psalm 127,
Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.
When you forego this God-ordained structure for things that your kids prefer or things that seem to “work” for others or things that seem reasonable, you are like a soldier who goes AWOL. You may have good intentions, but in the end you’re just second-guessing God. You might say, “but times have changed… my circumstances are unique.” God simply says, “trust me and obey.”
The Family at Church
In a broader sense, the church becomes family for us. Maybe that is a strange idea to you. We are so influenced by our consumer culture that we tend to look at church as a service provider rather than a family. While the church provides a service, it is so much more than a service provider. It is family bound together by the covenant promises of God. God says, “I will be your God and you will be my people.” We first hear this promise to Abraham as God speaks to Him and his children. It is a promise given “for a thousand generations.” Now, as those who are far off are also called by God, believers in Christ are called to receive these same promises, promises that join them together as family. That means living life together, sharing each other’s burdens and joys. Christians are to stand side-by-side and seek the Kingdom of God on mission. This means that those who may not have immediate family to support them in their devotion to God, still have family. The church is that family.
These two fundamental structures: the family of the home and the family of the church stand together in the spiritual war. And as you do, the Lord is with you. So trust the Lord to work through His ordained structures (the family and the church). Protect your family time and your family’s time together. Don’t farm out the work of raising your kids! And join a church, not just on Sunday mornings, but as family.