Living the Christian life is not just about maintaining a good relationship with God; it also concerns our relationship and interaction with our fellow men. When Christ answered the question of the lawyer on what the greatest commandment was, He made it clear that even though it was to love God wholeheartedly, there was another commandment which was as important as the main one; and that is “to love thy neighbour as thyself.” He then concluded: “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matthew 22:35-40) – which means that these two commandments are closely interwoven. The one who says he truly loves God must also be able to show genuine love and compassion towards all the people around him.
As followers of Christ, we are called to demonstrate charity and compassion in three different settings. The first is within the small family circle, which is our individual families. The second is within the big family circle, that is, the Church; and this is not limited to a building somewhere or to a particular denomination – it is the Universal Church, the body of true believers everywhere. The third setting is within the global family circle, that is, the entire world.
The small family circle comprises the father, the mother and their children. The big family circle (the Church) on the other hand is made up of individuals from different ethnic and family backgrounds. But the Church is regarded as a family unit because this body of believers is bound together by one common thing – the Blood of Jesus. By reason of the fact that we become Christians by the washing of the same blood, Christians everywhere are regarded as the family of God. Paul in Ephesians 3:14-15 says, “For this cause, I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in Heaven and earth is named.” And the whole world too is regarded as a family unit because we all actually came from the same parents – Adam and Eve. So, whether white or black, brown or yellow, living in Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, Antarctica or the Americas, we all are members of one global family.
Roles of Members of the Small Family
God’s word makes it clear that each of us has very crucial roles to play in promoting love and harmony in the different family units. In the small family circle, it says to the wives, “Likewise, ye wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the word, they also may without the word be won by the conversation of the wives” (1 Peter 3:1). To be in subjection is to acknowledge and affirm the headship of the husband; to respect him, honour him, support him, motivate him and let him have the final say in the running of the family affairs (except when his decision goes against the scripture). To the husbands, it says, “Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life … “ (verse 7). This is a call to husbands to properly study their wives, to know their peculiarities and preferences; to know their strengths and limitations; to know what makes them gl