We all know that children have a tendency to rebel against their parents. Teenagers tend to think they know the answers to everything, ignoring the good advice of those around them.
I am no stranger to these scenarios. I have seen many instances where active Christian couples have brought their children up to have faith in God only to find their offspring abandon the Christian faith or choose a different path.
I ask three serious questions relating directly to this issue.
How much 'is enough' time for an individual to give to a local church's activities without risking family relationships?
How much pressure should be applied on congregation members to allocate their time fairly so family times is not intruded upon?
What priorities and guidelines do the Scriptures lay down for family time?
Eli – too much time in God’s
I believe Eli is a classic example of doing God's work at the expense of spiritual responsibilities to the household and has witnessed many families fail at managing their time between religion and family. This is a legitimate subject in today's society. Christians need to find the balance between god and their family situations.
An important question is whether or not the rebellion of young adult children from their Christian heritage is directly linked to Christian parents spending too much time on the church rather than doing 'family things'.
From the Torah to the New Testament Epistles, the teachings are that family life is paramount. This message is echoed time and time again. Warnings about the consequences of ignoring this are abound within the Scriptures.
I observe Christmas is often a very tense time for Christian families. There are many churches that put on Christmas lunches for those who are homeless or alone, and this is truly wonderful. So too is the charity of many Christian families who invite lonely people home for Christmas festivities.
The danger is that many Christian families are unaware that heavily committing their time to the church during the holiday season can infringe on important family bonding. Feelings of guilt can overcome festivities when the fine line between 'godly family responsibility' and 'charitable duties to the wider community' becomes blurred. Christians should remember that putting the needs of their families first is paramount.
Family is also Christian ministry
For anyone who is a follower of Jesus Christ, your own family is also a Christian ministry and a very important ministry at that. This should be a time when families come together to be home for Christmas and it should be the number one priority. It is your God given responsibility and a joy to the Lord.
My warning is that parishioners should not to be duped into a false sense of duty to God because of the unrealistic expectation of others. It is far more important to be with family, the most magical gift to man.
Christian families are under enough stress as it is. My advice is to rejoice in the Lord, be free, reject those guilt impulses that play games with your life. Moreover, be wary of those who claim they have a 'word from the Lord' for you. I issue a solemn warning, that these 'words' are not additions to Holy writ.
Examine them carefully, and then decide for yourself whether they are consistent with your own understanding of the Scriptures, and follow your own conscience with respect to 'ministering' your own precious family before allocating any remaining time to your Christian community.
A young man came and saw me some months back. His sole interest in Christian matters was ‘giving (not offering) a word from the Lord as in prophesying’. He was not in the mood or an open heart to anything other than this direct line. This rang so many bells of danger in my spirit as I noticed he was directly it toward men with families.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand. Dr Mark Tronson’s Press Service International in 2019 was awarded the Australasian Religious Press Association’s premier award, The Gutenberg.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html