Recently I've been pondering family and what that means to me. The more I think about it, the more I am convinced that on this earth (outside of our ministry and gospel sharing to others) it should be the most important thing for Christians. Now, many people might think that I am referring to the closeness of a family or the fact that they share the same DNA. But this isn't why family is the most important thing. While having those relationships that enable you to know a person for their entire lives is part of it. The real reason that family is so important is because it is meant to be a picture of Christ's love and relationship towards His children.
What does an earthly family have to do with a heavenly one? That is a question that I have heard asked many times. Our earthly families are meant to demonstrate certain things about God to us. However, most of the time we pervert and destroy any resemblance that they might have of the Father's love for His children. Instead of demonstrating unconditional love to one another, we hold grudges and bemoan our situations. Instead of directing our homes as Christ directs His bride, we allow chaos and strife to reign supreme.
There are many ways that we destroy the picture that God has designed in order to point to Himself. Yet, there are times that the picture and structure He has designed comes to full light and breaks beautifully upon the eyes of all who see it. The times when a child is running, falls headlong and smashes into the ground, and their parent rushes to lift them up and comfort them. The times that a child disregards what they know they are supposed to do and their parent disciplines them in a way that instructs and guides them to know and understand that their actions have consequences. The times when a spouse is overcome with love and treats their spouse to something special, just because. The times when a sibling offers to share their toys with their little brother or sister, just because they know how much they enjoy playing with it.
The New Testament is laden with images about the family and it's relationship to the church and to God. However, most of the time we either ignore them or just pretend that they don't matter that much. The images that God lays out in Ephesians of how each part of the family is to treat the other is beautiful and yet can only be understood when we look at it in the light of what God has done for His children and His relationship with them. God's love for His elect is deeper than any love between husband and wife, siblings, or child and parent. Yet, without these relationships, we cannot know what Paul means when he writes about Christ's love for His bride/body.
Therefore, the more Christlike men are when they lead their homes, the more Christlike their families and churches will become. The more that a husband and wife realize that their children reflect their own relationships with God, the more they understand how sinful they are and how utterly dependent they are for His grace and mercy to carry them. Just as a child falls and bruises a part of their body, we fall many times as God's children. He doesn't leave us in the dirt to lick our wounds, but raises us up, showing us where we went wrong and lovingly guides us forward.
Without parents, there wouldn't be children. Without children we would never see a majestic part of the picture that family represents. May we rejoice that we have been given families. May we grow to to understand the importance of seeing our families as mirrors for the world to see the reflection of God in.