Today is a day we have set aside as family Sunday for which we have gathered in families to worship the Lord. It comes to me as an affirmative action which endorses the importance of family to us. Our theme as well is very assertive, making a claim that calls on us to weigh its merits in order to become convinced enough that the Family is indeed the future of the Church. Essentially, our endorsement of this theme gives more credence to the rationale behind setting a day like this aside to celebrate family. So, I hope to lead our fellowship with today’s theme through an inductive approach in which we shall employ a particular set of facts from the biblical data to form the general principle that the family is the future of the church.
FIRST OF ALL, WHICH FAMILY IS THE THEME REFERRING TO? When the word ‘family’ is mentioned, a variety of ideas is usually implied. The nucleus of all these ideas is the biological group type within which people are connected by blood. By this, we find the family of … and on and on which brings in tribe and ethnicity.
Other perspectives of family can be seen in the close association that people share. For instance, in our church, we have families according to day born, group affiliation, age brackets etc.
In the society as well, families are created through school affiliation, the courses or programmes people read etc. This is where family changes name to ‘association’. The last perspective of family I wish to mention is the Christian family. In this family, Col. 1: 15 tells us that Christ is the first born of all creation and Romans 8:29 also states that those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of Christ Jesus, so that Christ might be the firstborn among many brethren. Col. 1:18 further states that Christ is the firstborn from the dead. So we have a family in which Christ is the firstborn of all creation, firstborn among many brethren and firstborn from the dead. Christ being firstborn implies that the Christian family is one big family of brothers and sisters with God as Father/Mother (Ataa Naa Nyonmo) and Mother Earth (Asaase Yaa) etc.
Can we conclude here that as much as the biological group type of family appears to be traditionally the nucleus, we have found another family without which the biological family cannot survive as the future of the church? This is rhetorical and simply seeks to establish the fact that we need the biological family in partnership with the Christian family to make the future of the church.
As Africans, ethnicity and culture cannot be taken away from us because our early life was made up of settlement and resettlement. Our ancestors kept moving from one place to another through wars until they found suitable places to settle. This means that in our early lives as Africans, enmity and cruelty much prevailed. However, it is evident that much of our traditional/cultural nurture aim at fixing values in us. So, though there has been much division among us traditionally, charity has always began from our homes. In essence, the biological family as a foundation layer is very influential in nurturing our children and us all with values and virtues.
However, these values minus Christ is absolutely inconsequential. So, culture makes us know values and Christ refines these values to meet heavenly standards. Beloved, the future of every good thing is determined by the investment of discipline and values into its formation. So family as we have defined to be a collaborative effort between the biological and Christian perspectives would truly be the future of the Church if and only if we concentrate on investing virtues into our present life.
1 Samuel 2: 18-20 and Luke 2:41-52 talk about two boys; Samuel and Jesus Christ. For Samuel to become a great prophet of Israel, he was given as a gift to the altar. He was not abandoned there however. His mother made little robes for him as his parents visited Shiloh every year. Elkanah and Hannah in their own small ways created an environment for Samuel to become that great prophet. Here in our Christian family, the responsibility is for us all to support and encourage especially the youth to become properly disposed to carry the mantle of the church to higher and higher heights. I am highly optimistic that the Church is still capable of affecting the world positively.
Jesus Christ as a little boy at 12 years according to Jewish custom was taken to Jerusalem for the Passover feast. This custom was meant to nurture every Jewish child in the customs of Judaism and went alongside a conscious effort to domestically school them in the Torah. So at 12 years, Jesus proved to be a good student, sitting before the teachers of the Law and asking questions. Christ needed to know the Law so as to fulfil His ministry. I dare say that there would have been flaws in His ministry if He was not schooled properly in the Law.
Today, we find many half-baked preachers mishandling God’s word because they were denied some vital nurture at their formative stages. We can fix this error by rising up to the task of consciously creating a learning environment for the young people who are the future of the Church.
Some harm has already been done but we can fix it through our prayer.