Strong in His Power
Families strengthen the
church and society
By Ted N. C. Wilson
I am delighted that Adventist World has devoted its September 2012 issue to the family. The family is the backbone of society and the church. Families help bring stability and encouragement, and provide a strong foundation for accomplishing the work God has given us to do.
This strong foundation is built upon the Word of God, as illustrated in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount: “Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them. . . . He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock” (Luke 6:47, 48). The Bible forms a strong platform for God’s instruction to the family as it faces the challenges of life.
When we have a strong connection with Christ, we are drawn to Him as the center of all good things, and that brings us closer together as families. The spiritual emphasis of family worship, singing and praying together, brings about a spiritual connection that will withstand anything the family may face. More than just an overused phrase, “The family that prays together stays together” is really true!
In addition, we are blessed with inspired spiritual counsel through the writings of Ellen White. “God would have our families symbols of the family in heaven,” she wrote. “Let parents and children bear this in mind every day, relating themselves to one another as members of the family of God. Then their lives will be of such a character as to give to the world an object lesson of what families who love God and keep His commandments may be. Christ will be glorified; His peace and grace and love will pervade the family circle like a precious perfume” (Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, Nov. 17, 1896).
Respecting One Another
"When religious theory finds a practical application...,the connection with Christ takes on new meaning."
We must also keep in mind the importance of husbands and wives showing great love and respect for each other. “Each man must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband,” Paul writes in Ephesians 5:33, NLT.* We have to treat our spouses with the love and respect that is indicated in the Scriptures. This is made possible as we submit our lives to the Lord and His power, and ask Him to help us as individuals and to guide our interactions with each other.
When religious theory finds a practical application shown in relationships and work activity in and outside of the home, the connection with Christ takes on new meaning; much more than a theoretical idea, it becomes the basis for living as a family that finds meaning in God’s power. With Christ as the foundation, the family is secure.
Importance of Communication
Communication is vital for healthy relationships, and the encouragement that comes from talking with family has a remedial power. As family members talk together, exchanging thoughts and ideas, it’s important that each person feels safe and comfortable discussing many subjects within the confines of the family. This type of open communication should continue throughout life. Strong loyalty and love for each other is a source of real strength.
Even though our three daughters are now married, we still stay in close contact with them and their families. Today in some parts of the world, cell phones and other electronic devices provide easy ways to stay in contact with family members, especially when you live some distance apart.
Family traditions and a commitment to spending time together are also important. Hiking and mountain climbing are traditions that continue in our family. We enjoy being together during special holiday times, such as Thanksgiving celebrations in November in the United States and Christmas in December. And we make sure to take time out of our busy schedules for some type of summer vacation together.
Families and the Church
Families are important because they are a reminder of God’s great love for us and of the wonderful privilege we have of belonging to the larger family of God. The wealth of blessing that comes when nurtured and nurturing families are integral parts of the local church is beyond estimation. Having Christ-centered, closely connected families as part of the local church family provides a powerful backbone to the functioning of the church and its evangelistic outreach.
In turn, the church can nurture the family spiritually and socially; bringing strong support to family life that can be a great blessing. This is why the church has a Family Ministries Department, providing valuable resources that help support the family (visit them at family.adventist.org).
The local church provides nurture in a number of ways, such as forming family prayer groups, organizing activities that encourage families, and through the training of pastors and other church leaders. It can also provide counseling and education for families in need, abused women, parents wrestling with the challenges of raising children, and other challenging situations. Youth groups can be organized for encouragement of younger members of church families. Older members can adopt young families to mentor and encourage. Church members can learn the names of the youth in the church and bring encouragement as they address the young person by name and let them know they are praying for them.
The church is also a supportive place for those who have experienced broken family relationships. When the church family steps in to bring encouragement and hope, healing takes place and draws those who have experienced brokenness even closer to their church family and to Christ.
Singles and the Church
A warm, hospitable church family can also be a wonderful place for singles to worship, socialize, and feel at home—whatever their plans, or not, for marriage. However, if you are looking for a lifelong soul mate, church is one of the best places to be. I know, because that’s where I found mine!
When I was completing a Master of Science in Public Health degree at Loma Linda University, I usually worshipped at the University church. One Sabbath I entered the church with an older woman I had met at the hospital the day before and had invited to church. As we entered, I saw an open place next to a beautiful young woman, Nancy Vollmer, and her grandmother, Mrs. Marion Vollmer, whom I had known for years, since she and her husband, Dr. H. W. Vollmer, were good friends of my parents and grandparents. I had seen Nancy before, but had never met her. This all seemed like a providential opportunity.
I leaned over and greeted Mrs. Vollmer, hoping she would introduce me to Nancy. I learned later that Grandma Vollmer had whispered to Nancy, “That’s Teddy Wilson. Stick with me, and after church I’ll introduce you!” After visiting together in the foyer for some time after the service ended, I knew Nancy was someone I definitely wanted to get to know better! About a year later we became engaged when Nancy and I visited her parents in Asheville, North Carolina. We learned that Grandma Vollmer and Grandma Wilson fasted and prayed that weekend since they knew we were visiting Nancy’s home together. Praying Christian families are really special. A few months later we were married—37 years ago this month.
Families and Society
In today’s world the biblical model of families is increasingly under attack. While society is pushing other models, as Seventh-day Adventists we must be foremost in defending the aspects and blessings of the biblically appointed, heterosexual marriage in a family setting.
Strong, vibrant Christian families can be a wonderful witness in their churches, neighborhoods, places of work and school, and in society as a whole. God wants families to be strong in His power, strengthening both the church and society, and sharing the glorious hope and good news of Christ’s soon return.
Ted N. C. Wilson is president of the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists in Silver Spring, Maryland, U.S.A.