Vol. 12 No. 3 March 2010
A recent study by the Family Research Council offers encouragement for both the home and the faith. Doctors Nicholas Zill and Phillip Fletcher found a “startling discrepancy between children who live with both biological parents and attend religious services weekly, and those from broken homes who worship less frequently.” Using data from the National Survey of Children’s Health, they found “students from intact, churchgoing families are five times less likely to repeat a grade. Less than 21% of these parents were contacted by their school for behavior or achievement problems, compared to 53% whose children were not living with both parents and not attending services regularly. The more frequently a family worships together, it seems, the less anxious moms and dads are about their children’s school performance.”
Even more surprising is that these differences held true even after considering family income and poverty, parent’s education level, race and ethnicity. As the report stated, “Children thrive, the family bond strengthens, school success skyrockets, and the nation reaps the reward.” Church and family seem to be the “perfect prescription” for many social problems faced in our nation today.
This data just confirms what so many of us realize about the importance of both the home and the Lord’s church. We are created by God, and He knows best what it takes for us to live an abundant life here and now. Solomon advises us, “Buy truth, and do not sell it, get wisdom and instruction and understanding” (Proverbs 23:23). The importance of a complete education, both spiritually and otherwise, cannot be overstated. Just as important as this is the role the church is to play in our lives. We find worth and value, individually and as family units, by being active in the work of the church. It enables us to grow in the image of Christ (Ephesians 4:15-16), and live more as God intends, which is the best life to live. The value of worship, and worshipping together as a family, is inestimable as well. No wonder the Hebrew writer encouraged his readers, and us, “Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:25).
Unfortunately, most of the world, and even many in the Lord’s church, do not understand this very basic principle. To ignore God and the importance of the home has brought so much hurt to so many people. Yet, Satan has deceived the world into thinking all the evil around us, which afflicts us individually, as families and as a society, has nothing to do with sin that is so prevalent. “In whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God” (2 Corinthians 4:4).
If a change for the better is to happen, it will happen with those in the body of Christ truly being light and salt (Matthew 5:13-16). If the world does not see a difference in us from it, then what is there to attract them to the Gospel, and the blessed life it provides? Commit yourself to being a strong, integral part of your family, fulfilling the God-given role you have. Commit yourself to being a strong, integral part of the church, using your God-given talents to serve. It can make a difference, not just for you, and your family and the body of Christ, but perhaps your part of the world. “Prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15).
Soon after Angi and David’s sixth wedding anniversary, the couple’s home burned to the ground. Angi’s first act, when they were allowed to hunt through the blackened remains, was to search for their photo albums. When she went to tell David that the pictures had indeed survived, she found him carefully placing in a box some charred, folded pieces of paper—their courtship love letters.
“As I watched David kneeling there in the ashes,” she says, “I was overcome with the certainty that we were meant for each other. There, in the face of our greatest tragedy, our first thoughts were not of our material loss but of the potential loss of these precious parts of our life together. As I knelt to help him with the letters, I was certain that we hadn’t lost anything that mattered after all.”
“Everything that can be counted does not necessarily count; everything that counts cannot necessarily be counted” (Albert Einstein). So what counts? What matters most? In one word: relationships. In three words: friends, family and faith.
In Philippians 3, the Apostle Paul enumerates many of the accomplishments that he attained as a Jew (vs. 4-7). However, at the end of the list he wrote: “But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ” (v. 7). Then he explained his new priority:
“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith.” (Philippians 3:8-9)
Sin separates us from God (Isaiah 59:1-2) and from all that is good, right and eternal. Yet, God loved us so much that He gave His Son to die on the cross for our sins, so that we might be reconciled to Him and live eternally with Him in heaven (Romans 5:6-10). We can be reconciled to God in Christ through: faith (Acts 16:30-31), turning from our sins in repentance (2 Corinthians 7:9-10), confessing Jesus before men (Romans 10:9-10) and being baptized (immersed) into Christ for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38).
Life’s true meaning is discovered when we focus upon what truly counts: friends, family, and especially our relationship with the Father. What counts in your life?