In Revelation 2 & 3, John gives us a glimpse of what a healthy church should look like. Jesus writes letters to 7 churches, encouraging them for the work they were doing, while challenging them in specific areas of needed growth. I believe we can take each one of these letters and gain 7 habits of a healthy family!
1. Keep your love for Christ at the center of everything – The church of Ephesus had lost their first love! As they persevered and endured difficult times, they lost their passion for who God called them to be. Jesus challenged them to remember and live by who He was and what He endured on their behalf.
There are moments within each one of our families that we are faced with extremely difficult circumstances. As I think through the past three years, I often wonder, ‘what’s next? What else could go wrong?’ We find ourselves standing in the shoes of the church of Ephesus. Although we despise evil, we have lost focus of Christ at the center!
As parents, we must never lose sight of what Jesus did for us! As we continue to focus on who He is, our love for Him will grow, no matter what circumstances come our way! Is Jesus at the center of your family? Does He shine through your words and deeds? Do you react to circumstances remembering how Jesus suffered for you?
2. Trust that God has your back – The church of Smyrna was about to face major persecution. Revelation 2:10 says, ‘Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer.’ They had already faced several other trials, including major poverty. Here was a church that understood how to persevere through adversity, yet Jesus challenges them to not be afraid of whatever persecution may come their way.
What difficult circumstances is your family facing? Are you ever afraid of the ‘what if’? Many of us have lived through those ‘what if’ moments – the times that life does not make sense and nothing seems to go right. Honestly, I fear the day something horrific happens to one of my family members and am blindsided by the unimaginable circumstances of life!
The health of a family cannot be based on possessions or circumstances, but in a trust that God has our back no matter what! He is there for us in the midst of the most difficult times! He promises to never leave us or give up on us. His love covers any fear we may have in regards to the ‘what if’ moments. We must rely on Christ for strength in the moments that are easy and in the ones that do not make any sense!
3. Allow God’s Word to influence your family – Jesus’ third letter was to the church of Pergamum, which found itself in the middle of evil Greek culture. They surrounded themselves with idol worshippers and allowed culture to influence them instead of living for Christ in the midst of culture. Jesus promised to fight their battle for them.
What do people see when they look at your family? Do you speak, act, and live differently than families engulfed in today’s culture? We must allow God’s Word to influence the life of our families. Instead of looking solely to culture, Oprah, modern television, or today’s greatest parenting book, we must allow God’s Word to lead us as a family on mission! It cannot be the latest, greatest idea that leads us as parents and families, but the truth of God’s Word!
4. Setup boundaries based on God’s Word – The church of Thyatira was accomplishing great works in the name of Jesus Christ, but lacked boundaries. They fell into Satan’s lies and deceits as they allowed sin to consume their leadership.
Is your family so focused on doing God’s work, that you will extend your boundaries beyond the direction of God’s Word? Our grace-filled freedom in Christ does not give us the right to sin! We must establish boundaries that keep Jesus at the center of our families. Our relationships must be built around Christ, not on the wisdom of the world.
Thyatira’s place of worship had become a center for sexual immorality. I have come in contact with so many families that have been broken because of sexually immoral actions. In order to live as a family on mission for Christ, we must not fall into the traps of Satan! We must solidify boundaries based on God’s Word in order to keep ourselves from sexual immorality!
5. Be vulnerable and real – To the average person within the community, the church of Sardis appeared alive, but on the inside they were dead! Their actions lacked authenticity. They wanted the spotlight, but lacked faith in Christ. The members of Sardis were fooling the community into believing they had their act together!
Is your family great in public, but a disaster behind closed doors? Do you appear to have your act together when around others? Are you serving alongside your spouse, but talking about getting divorced? We may be able to fool those around us and even ourselves, but we cannot fool God! He knows our family’s heartbeat, no matter what others may think or say about us.
As a father and husband, I have experienced growth in the midst of vulnerability. We must be real with those we come in contact with. I understand there may be times we have to put on a good front as we walk through difficult circumstances, but those around us must also see that we are real people in need of God’s grace!
6. Remain faithful in the little things – The church of Philadelphia was blessed with opportunities to impact their community for the cause of Christ! They were forced to rely on God’s strength and trust in His guidance. God was protecting them from trials and holding them tight. Because of their commitment to Christ, their community was going to experience a radical transformation! Jesus did not have anything against this church because of their obedience to Him. He was going to use them through His strength, not because of what they had or could do.
As a family, are you remaining faithful in the little things? God desires to use you in ways you could never imagine! But he first calls us to remain faithful in minor circumstances and rely on His strength for everything. As Christ remains at the center of our homes, God will bless and use us in ways that do not make sense! Remain faithful in the little things and God will come through in mighty ways.
7. Get off the fence – The seventh and final church, Laodicea, was living on the fence. Revelation 3:15 says, ‘I know your deeds: that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were either one or the other!’ They were living in shame, with one foot in a relationship with Christ and one foot in the world. They based their relationship with Christ on their riches and possessions. Jesus despised them because they were not truly living for Him!
Too many families struggle because they feel pulled in multiple directions. We have become so wrapped up in our busy schedules and possessions that our faith is wavering around Christ instead of centered on Him! We must not live lukewarm lives!
A healthy family strives to have Christ at the center! As the spiritual leaders of our homes, we must never lose sight of who He has called us to be!