Summary: We must focus on reaching and equipping families to pray together for the church, to worship together, to serve together and to fall deeper in love with the church that Christ gave
Introduction: I heard about a pastor who asked a group of children in a Sunday School class the question, "Why do you love God?" He received a variety of answers such as God first loved us and Jesus died for us, but the one that he liked best was, "I guess it just runs in our family." Does loving God and loving His church run in your family too? I don't mean you can inherit salvation but you certainly do need to pass your faith on to succeeding generations through living it and talking about it. It is our job as healthy church members to lead our family to love the Lord and the church that He died for. Spiritually healthy families make spiritually healthy churches.
Our church is no healthier spiritually than the families that make it up. Neither will it ever rise above the spiritual commitment of our families. Pastor Dexter James summed it up well when he said: "People want to eat steak and potatoes when the preacher gets up, but they feast on cotton candy all through the week. There is no spiritual depth at all in their family home." Before we moan and complain about losing the right to pray in school and in the public square, we better wake up and realize the reason why we have lost prayer in school and the public arena is because we lost prayer in the home first.
Today is our last message in the I am A Church Member series. Even though I swapped this chapter for the last chapter in the book, I am very glad to end on this message because what I am sharing today is vital to the future of our church. We must focus on reaching and equipping families to pray together for the church, to worship together, to serve together and to fall deeper in love with the church that Christ gave His life for.
I. THE RIGHT EXAMPLE MAKES A DIFFERENCE (vv. 22-28, 32)
a. First, I want to talk about the importance of the marital relationship in the spiritual life of the family. (Disclaimer - I recognize the fact that we don't live in a perfect world and our fellowship is made up of all kinds of families...)
i. "Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. (Eph. 5:31-32) (Goes back to Genesis 2:24)
ii. God intended to build society on the foundation of marriage for a reason that was only revealed in the advent of Jesus Christ - marriage is a living picture of the relationship between Christ and His church.
iii. When Paul says that this mystery is profound, he does not mean it is hard to understand. He means that this truth will have a tremendous impact. Whenever you look at the husband/wife relationship - you should see a picture of the relationship between Jesus and His Bride, the church.
1. Christ loved the church unconditionally and gave His life for her.
2. The bride (church) loves Christ and willingly submits to Him because of the unconditional love that He has shown to her.
3. God intended for the marital relationship between a man and woman to be a witness to the lost world of the kind of relationship that He offers to us.
4. That is why it is so important for Christians to work hard in their marriages to represent Christ.
b. Not only should the world see a godly example in our marriages, but our children and grandchildren should see a godly example in our marriages for the sake of the gospel message.
i. Our example points our children to Jesus Christ
ii. Our example models what a relationship with God should look like
1. Do you talk about spiritual matters outside of church?
2. Do your kids see how much you love the Word of God?
3. Do your children see how much you love Christ's church?
4. Do you set the example by serving in the church?
5. Do you pray for your church and other matters together with your family?
c. The example we set in the marital relationship should reflect two "S" words - neither of which are very popular in our society - "submission" and "sacrifice."
i. "Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord." (Eph 5:22)
ii. "Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her..." (Eph. 5:25)
d. Whenever we talk about submission, I think we need to dispel some myths about submission first.
i. Submission to your husband does not imply inferiority (Submission is found in the Trinity - 1st Cor. 11:3)