Yesterday I talked about what Christ’s plan for the Church was. I talked about how Jesus loves His church and planned for it in eternity past. He provided for it through His death and resurrection. He gave it a mission (the Great commission) and He gave it His Holy Spirit.
Today I want to get more into the Church’s role to fulfill our need of belonging and purpose.
The feeling of belonging comes from a sense of family. And then in its fullest sense, belonging is enjoyed within true, authentic community. However, it is not just enough to belong to a family and a community – we must belong to a family and community of purpose.
That’s why today I want to talk about the local church as a family of families.
The Church as a Family of Families
1 Timothy 3:14-15
“I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.”
The reason why Paul wrote this letter (and many of his letters to the churches) is so that they might know “how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God.” Paul wrote Timothy so that even if he is delayed in traveling to them, they would still know how to set up, order, and behave in the church. Paul was Timothy’s mentor, but he was also using this letter to give instruction and unity to all the churches (since this letter was passed on to other churches and we also have it today to use as a guideline for our churches).
The book of 1 Timothy also specifically deals with issues of how to appoint elders, their qualifications, and how to deal with widows.
I love how these verses talk about how the church is the pillar and support of the truth. That’s a really important position to have!! The church protects the message of gospel as it passes down from generation to generation, as we follow the ordered structure of the church that Paul talks about.
1 Timothy 5:1-2
“Do not sharply rebuke an older man, but rather appeal to him as a father, to the younger men as brothers, the older women as mothers, and the younger women as sisters, in all purity.”
1 Timothy 3:4-5
“He [talking about an overseer] must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity, (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?)”
We can see in these other verses in 1 Timothy, the order of a “household of God” emerging. Members of the church are to treat one another as they would member of their own family.
So, if we are to live within the church as we would within our family, how does the Bible command us to live within our own families?
Living Within a Believing Family
This passage in Ephesians is called a “household text”, because it is one of the 3 passages in the letters to the churches that give instruction on how we should live within a believing family. In the book of Ephesians, Paul is instructing the church how they should walk as Christians. This passage is a major part of that instruction. Each person has a role to play in submitting and leading. As you read through Eph. 5:22-6:9, you see these main relationships emerging:
- Husbands/Wives – The husband is to love the wife so much that he is willing to give up his life for her. This relationship is to reflect Christ’s love and relationship with the Church. He is to love his wife just as much as he loves his own body; he is to nourish and cherish her. The wife is responsible for her attitude. She is to submit to her husband’s leadership – this means deferring to his wishes and convictions for their family and for their relationship. She is equal to him in the sight of God, and is free to respectfully mention her thoughts, but the husband is the decision maker and thus is responsible before God for his family’s actions.
- Parents/Children – Children are to obey their parents when young and to always honor them. Fathers are to discipline children when they disobey and to instruct them in the Word of God, so children grow up with the right understanding of God, the church, and the family.
- Masters/Slaves – This relationship is mentioned in Ephesians because many households in that culture included servants. Today, we can apply the instructions in this section to managers and those under them.
The context for this “household text” passage in Ephesians (and the parallel passage in Col. 3:18-4:1) is within the larger sections (beginning with Eph 4:1 and Col 3:1) of how to live in the body of Christ. In other words, the context for the teaching on the husband/wife relationship is the teaching on basic Christian love.
Big Idea: When families function according to God’s plan, the church can flourish.
The opposite is true then. When families don’t function according to God’s plan, the church falls apart. And so does society. For example – absent fathers in the family creates a breaking down of the family. The children then grow up not knowing how to lead as men and the cycle continues.When families function according to God's plan, the church can flourish. Click To Tweet
I would even go as far to say that heresy creeps into the church, starting in families. Families are the life of the church – for the good or the bad. We need strong families for the church to fulfill its mission.
Does your family structure itself according to Paul’s instructions?
Next time, I’m going to conclude this topic of Living within a Family of Families.