This is a bit of a spinoff of my last post so I recommend that first, but if not, you should be able to follow along…
So heading into marriage while both my fiancé and I are prayerfully considering full time ministry, me in women’s ministry and his in worship, we have been given so much advice and almost discouragement in our ministry from those that are older than us, years and years into marriage, in favor of us staying home, focusing on our marriage and our family. The past few days I’ve been searching my own heart and desires, and what God really wants. Today I’m pondering something that I hope will challenge thought in all that are reading along.
All of this advice from everyone has been seriously discouraging in regards to our ministries from time to time, and I think almost intentionally so. I TOTALLY understand the need to be active in ministry within your own home. It is first and foremost a responsibility that comes directly and unarguably from God Himself. Our parents generation, the Baby Boomers, were huge workaholics and I think that’s why. They were the first generation to put this big of an emphasis on career and occupation and in talking to some mothers and even women without children from that generation, it’s indisputable that their jobs are what define them (I won’t go off on this tangent here I promise). Our dads often worked jobs for a lot of hours, and a majority of our mothers did too. I know my own mom is usually working a 9-10 hour-a-day at work and they instilled in us this need for college and career prior to family… which will do to us what it did to them: keep us out of the home. I don’t know where the shift between obligations to family were trumped by obligations to work, but it’s somewhere between the Boomers and the Millennials, I think.
It makes COMPLETE sense to me that these are the women and men who are advising us to stay home and live quiet lives with our children, and I’m not saying I don’t want it; on the contrary! I DO want it! But I also feel that the idea of being so focused on our families that we completely miss the idea of outreach and evangelizing to the non-believing world is far from Biblical.
Should we be passionately involved in our family? Yes.
Radical Christianity starts at home… but it doesn’t STAY at home.
Jesus said that the disciples were to take the Gospel to the ENDS OF THE EARTH once they’ve received the Holy Spirit (Matthew 28, Acts 2). Your husband/wife/children are the most important part of that earth he’s talking about, but they’re not the only earth He’s talking about.
The problem I have with the phrase “focus on the family” is that I actually think it takes away from where our focus should be. You should be focused on GOD and everything else – your family, your ministry (whether corporate or otherwise), your job, your everything – will fall right into place. Being focused on Him will bring you to where He wants you, one way or another.
The other phrase so many like to use is “safe for the whole family.” I hear it on the radio all the time. I get that they’re saying the songs and content are safe, but is GOD SAFE? No! He compares Himself to a consuming fire (Deuteronomy 4:24, Hebrews 12:29), He says He will prune us (John 15 :2 – think about it), the Cross itself is utterly and brutally grotesque! (John 19, Luke 23, Mark 15, Matthew 27). Noah’s Ark (Genesis 7), Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19), without blood there can be no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22), etc etc etc… But He is GOOD.
“’Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion.’
‘Ooh’ said Susan. ‘I’d thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion’
‘Safe?’ said Mr. Beaver, ‘who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.’”
-CS Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
There are people all of the world converting to Christianity knowing it’s not safe at all for them or their family. They could die for it. Pastor Saeed Abedini is a good one. The man – a husband and father – has been in an Iranian prison for nearly a year for preaching in in-home churches in Iran. He’s suffering beatings, robbery, and deteriorating health in prison for his faith. Do you think anyone tried to discourage him from going to Iran in the first place because of his family? Sure. But do you think God is please with his perseverance and long-suffering love for Him? I can’t say I know the heart of the Lord in and out, but Biblically speak, I definitely think so. He might not be in the home with His children for His persecution, but what is his testimony teaching thousands, including his children? Honestly, it’s teaching them the truth. The enemy is real, persecution is real, but God is GOOD. God is worth all that we go through. I think it’s beautiful. Hard and definitely a trial, and no, it isn’t ideal or comfortable or at all within the idea of a cozy Christian life, but man, what a work God is doing because of His one servant who stepped out in radical faith and followed Jesus into the lion’s den, huh?
“Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
Our families are undeniably important and I cannot express enough that I am not trying to take away from their value and importance in life. Children are a gift from God (Psalm 127:3) and having children is even the first charge that He gave to Adam and Eve in their marriage (Genesis 1:28). We are solely responsible for these children, and husbands for their wives. It is an immense responsibility and definitely the first calling.
“If anyone causes one of these little ones–those who believe in me–to stumble, it would be better for them if a large millstone were hung around their neck and they were thrown into the sea.”
But I cannot over express the need for outreach in this world either.
Our kids don’t just need our attention and guidance in knowing God to survive what the world is going to be for them. They’re going to have it rough and honestly, they need to know more than ever, how it is that Jesus is carried into this world. We weren’t meant to be surviving Christians, we are thriving conquerors (Romans 8:37), but we are that way to SPREAD. God’s redemptive plan in using us to spread the gospel goes horizontally and vertically, in my understanding. We spread the gospel out and down, out to the people around us and down to our kids. If we aren’t reaching out, we’re missing a key point in teaching our children the Gospel! They need to know that they are to reach out and down as well, not just down.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.”
Beyond that, and again this is not to take away from the important value of our children, but each and every person on this earth is a child to God. They each deserve our effort, not just the ones that live in our homes. A balance must be found, and I know that it’s the Holy Spirit that guides for this. It’s why Jesus said the Holy Spirit would come. But we need to stop getting so stuck in our own business and realize there is a world out there that needs us to show them Jesus. Our kids need to know it, because our children are just as much doors for His love to reach this world as we are.
Ministry is your family, not just in your family. Radical Christianity starts at home… but it doesn’t STAY at home.
“Still another said, ‘I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say goodbye to my family.’
Jesus replied, ‘No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.’”
Please don’t feel like I’m saying that we should all be packing up and heading for the Middle East for missions. Your radical outreach can be to the girl at work, a bible study you lead at home, or at the nursing home in town. Personally, my ministry doesn’t take me far from home at all. Your ministry might be your family, I’m not sure. You have to take that up with the Big Guy upstairs. I’m just saying in general, it’s a common misconception I’m finding that we’re supposed to be “all about our family” or “focused on our family.” I think those phrases and ideals are putting blinders on us as Christians to the world around us. God wasn’t focused on His family; He sacrificed His Son, in all reality. He was focused on us. So like I said yesterday… We should be focused on Him, and He’ll focus us accordingly.
“You shall have no other gods before Me.”