Last week, my friend Eric at “A Pilgrim’s Progress” wrote a very good post last week called “It Doesn’t Take a Village… It Takes a Family.” Eric was responding to Hillary Clinton’s statement that it takes a village to raise a child. Instead, Eric said that it actually takes a family – specifically, a church, which is the family of God.
In his post, Eric talks about the church as family. He says:
The church should be a family. Because of this, everyone in the family ought to know everyone else. They should be familiar with each other’s strengths and weaknesses, interests, talents, hopes, struggles, etc. In this setting, adults have a tremendous opportunity to positively influence children. This happens through both word and deed. Parents may be wise, but they don’t hold all the wisdom in the world. They need help and can benefit a great deal from the wisdom of their brothers and sisters in Christ. An encouraging and/or challenging word from an adult can edify a child a great deal.
Unfortunately, for many groups of believers, they are family in name only. They call each other brother and sister, but usually live separate lives, only seeing one another during official church meetings.
Over the last few years, we have tried to learn to live as family. True, we are not biological family. But, there are times when our relationship with on another (because of our mutual relationship with God as Father) makes us closer than biological family. We have learned and continue to learn how to share our lives with one another, both in big things and in small things.
I was able to witness a small part of this last weekend when one of my young brothers turned thirteen. His birthday party including people his age, people younger than him, and (predominantly) people older than him. We talked about how it takes the entire family – both biological and also spiritual – to raise a young man as a disciple of Christ. (By the way, the picture today is from his party.)
As a father to two children, this means that I must not only allow but also encourage my children to build deep spiritual relationships with other mature followers of Jesus Christ. I should also encourage other believers to develop relationships with my children.
Regardless of how good of a father I am, my children need more than me. Regardless of how good Margaret and I are as parents, our children need more than us. They need familial relationships with their brothers and sisters in Christ. They need relationships with more mature followers of Jesus who can help them in their walk. They also need relationships with less mature believers who they can help in their walk.
Eric is right. It doesn’t take a village to raise a child. It takes God’s family to raise a disciple.