Practicing Christianity at Home

L.A. Stauffer

OTHER THAN A SINGLE individual, the oldest, smallest, closest, and most basic nit of society is the family. Families, therefore, form the building blocks of a community, a nation, a civilization. As families go, so go the city, the country, the world. That our country at the opening of the twenty-first century is in trouble few would deny. The reason? God has not only been left out of the schools and much public life, but, practically, out of our homes also.

When love, respect, morality, godliness, spirituality, duty, fairness - the bonding elements of the family - are not taught and enforced daily in the home, how can they exist in society? No nation can long survive the lack of these fundamentals in family life. Their absence in our country signals the need for the introduction of Christianity as the foundation of both family life and society.

Christianity by Biblical definition can neve be viewed as occasional acts of righteousness, whether in personal life or in the home. The term Christianity in its real sense describes people - not merely by acts and deeds but by who and what they are. Yes, Christians "practice" good works, but these activities emanate from character that is developed by the regenerating power of God's Spirit through the gospel (see Titus 3:4; John 3:5; 1 Corinthians 4:15; 1 Peter 1:22,23; Romans 6:4). The fruit of the new birth manifests itself daily in private life, the business world, social relationships - and within households.

Christianity, according to God's design, makes its way into the home through husbands and fathers who take charge of their families and rule them well (see 1 Timothy 3:4,5). When a man, as leader of the family, loves he Lord his God with his whole heart, he on behalf of his household chooses whom he and his family will serve (see Joshua 24:15; Acts 18:8; 1 Corinthians 1:16).

A worthy man, full of love and devotion to God, gives himself sacrificially as a husband to his wife and cares for her, nourishing and cherishing her as an honorable vessel: a godly example of commitment that impacts both the wife and children (see Ephesians 5:25-29; 1 Peter 3:7).

When a mother responds to heavenly, God-like love from her husband and the father of her children with affection, respect, and admiration, children grow up in the warm atmosphere of kindness, gentleness, humility, and longsuffering - the qualities of love the Paul says endures (see Titus 2:4,5; 1 Corinthians 13:4-7). What children see daily in their fathers and mothers and by that parental influence seek to emulate is the love of God and Christ; an unconditional care and offering of themselves to members of the family and to fellow citizens.

Fathers, with the support of mothers, not only choose, as did Joshua, to serve God but also to devote themselves to the training of their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (see Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:4). The children likewise experience, as an expression of parental love, firmness and discipline that refuses to spare the rod of correction: chastisement of he body that conditions the mind and soul for reverence and holiness (see Proverbs 13:24; Hebrews 12:4-11).

The effectiveness of love and training depends largely on the spiritual maturity and example of parents who themselves walk where their Lord walked (se 1 Peter 2:21). Like Abraham of old, fathers and mothers comand their children and households "after" them, demonstrating Christianty by their own faithfulness to the Lord and their insistence that the children walk in their footsteps (see Genesis 18:19). Religious conviction, spiritual devotion, and moral uprightness set a course of conduct that unalterably and unmistakably give God-directed guidance to the family.

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