What Manner of Man
(A weekly program for knowing and following Jesus Christ)
By Richard M. Eyre
WEEK 38: FAMILIES
It is interesting and instructive to note that God, from all the titles or names available to him, chose to have us call him Father.
During our Savior’s ministry he spoke of eternal relationships in family terminology, and through the restored gospel we have received further enlightenment on those concepts: God is our father; Christ is our eldest brother; and we are, to each other and to Christ, brothers and sisters.
In Christ’s church, the family is the center, the focal point, the foundation. Church meetings, programs, manuals and teachings cluster and concentrate around the family.
Why, then, is there not more evidence in Christ’s life of a family orientation, and why did he say: “He that loveth his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37); “no man hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children…for my sake, and the gospel’s, but he shall receive an hundredfold” (Mark 10:29-30); “The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father, the mother against the daughter” (Luke 12:54)?
Answer: There is evidence of family orientation in the Savior’s life—widespread, abundant evidence. And he contrasted the gospel with the family because the family was the most important, the greatest value comparison he could make.
The Lord’s concern for families is frequently manifest in the scriptures. When Jesus, as Jehovah, gave the Ten Commandments and who he reiterated them again during his earthly ministry, several of them had connotations for the stability of family, and one carried with it the promise, “Honor thy father and thy mother; that thy days may be long” (Exodus 20:12).
Scriptures that some take as a “put-down” of families (see Mark 10:29, Luke 12:53) are actually Christ’s most stirring family tributes. He is undoubtedly grieved that the gospel would break up some families; he shows approval for those who have to leave their families to follow him; and his most dramatic way of showing the importance of following him is to compare it with the next most important thing in life: the family!
Coming to Christ, knowing him, following his teachings, is life’s highest priority—it is the only priority higher than family. As many scriptures (and common sense) suggest, the family should take priority over church programs and organizations; and this priority, properly viewed and carried out, is a part of keeping the commandments of Christ.
Why did Christ not make even more effort to spell out these priorities? Perhaps because they dovetail so tightly with everything else he taught that there was no need. His gospel is the family; the family is his gospel. They are not competitors but teammates, and the Savior is both captain and coach, support and star.
He said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). How better can we do that than by helping God’s other children (especially our own children) return to him?