FAMILY AND BEARING WITNESS FOR CHRIST
(H.G. Bishop Moussa)
Bearing witness to Jesus Christ is not just the duty of the
family, but also of every believer. For what Jesus Christ has
done for us deserves our gratitude, dedication and active efforts
for Him. Therefore, the Christian family is expected to bear
witness to Christ, Who loved it and shed His blood for its sake.
We bear witness to Christ not only because we are thankful to Him
for saving, blessing and choosing us as His children, but also
out of love for humanity that needs the Good Savior. We need to
determine the ways that the Christian family should follow.
Bearing witness means demonstrating these divine characteristics
with consolidation and depth in our Christian lives. Being
positive in one's Christian life is a blessing to oneself and to
others, as Solomon said: "The generous soul will be made rich,
and he who waters will also be watered himself" (Prov 11:25).
There are many areas where the family can bear witness to Christ
Who protects and saves it:
1. The Area Of Personal Holiness
What proves that Jesus works in us is His ability to make us
holy. Holiness is not based on sinlessness, but on "freedom from
condemnation." It is impossible for man to be sinless. As long
as we are in our weak body we groan under the same burden as the
Apostle's saying: "O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver
me from this body of death?" (Rom 7:24). Even we who "have the
first fruits of the Spirit, ... groan within ourselves, eagerly
waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body" (Rom 8:23).
We may stumble, but we refuse to be enslaved to sin.
In spite of our struggles and efforts, our weakness still leads
us to sin - this is natural, but our faults are caused by
carelessness or overconfidence in the face of temptation. We
should not try to test ourselves out. Such a reckless attitude
must be changed. It is possible for a certain kind of person to
rise to his or her feet when fallen. This person changes his or
her ways and is not condemned. "There is therefore now no
condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk
according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit" (Rom 8:1).
Another kind of person, however, not only falls but with his or
her free-will keeps on falling and fully chooses to do so.
Someone like that really needs to be shaken up inside and have
his or her conscience aroused so as to change his or her whole
direction in life.
"Holiness" in Greek is "Agios", which means "set apart for God"
or "chosen for God." Just as tithes, or tenths, are "set apart
for God" and the vessels of the altar are "consecrated for
service", so a priest of the old covenant would have a sign on
his forehead saying, "Holy to God." In Holiness we set ourselves
apart from the natural walk of the people of this world, and
dedicate the innermost sanctuary of our hearts to the Lord. We
struggle to devote all our love to Christ.
This personal holiness is based on the grace of God working with
our struggles. This is the most important area of witness to
Christ, for people "May see your good works and glorify your
Father in heaven" (Mt 5:16). What will have most impact are not
our untiring efforts as God's servants, nor our profound studies:
what really counts is being a model or a demonstration of God's
handiwork, an icon that expresses the work of the Holy Spirit.
2. The Area Of Family Cohesion
The Christian family is to be an example which bears witness to
Jesus' love. This love can link the family members together in
one body. When talking about steady, consistent marriages people
used to call them "Christian Marriages." What is needed now from
our Christian families is a living witness to Jesus Christ Who is
dwelling in them with all His love. What we don't need is
trouble, selfishness, hatred and divorces.
People nowadays think of divorce very quickly and at the first
misunderstanding, despite the fact that divorce is completely
rejected in the New Testament except in the case of adultery or
abandoning the faith. god told us in the Old Testament - under
the age of Law - that He hates divorce: how much more in the age
of the Holy Spirit and redemption? People think nowadays of
cutting off marriage ties because they have no children (mainly a
Middle Eastern phenomenon). Or they may think of splitting up
because their characters differ, instead of coping with each
other in true Christian love. Or they may get divorced in the
face of sickness instead of looking after one another. None of
these reasons spring from the mind of Christ or the Spirit of
The family will disintegrate and the children will lose their way
and will face spiritual and psychological suffering. Yet the one
who is causing all this thinks he or she's doing nothing wrong.
As the days go by, the one who has said an angry word will sense
that he or she has done something which didn't please God.
Let God speak into our hearts! Let Him arouse our sleeping
consciences. Let Him unite our disintegrated families for the
sake of bearing true witness to Christ, Who suffered by the whips
which cut His shoulders for our sakes. We must watch out for God
will bring peace into our disintegrating families and give
repentance to lost souls. Otherwise, what a great crime we are
committing against our children, not only in this age but in
eternity as well!
3. The Area Of Service In The Church
This is the natural area in which the family should bear its
witness to Jesus Christ. We are to exert continuous service for
the church and to serve with our tithes and not to deny them to
their real owner, Who is the key of blessing. Giving tithes is a
blessing to oneself. We must contribute our talents: the father, as a teacher, a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer: the wife in her work or in any job which may suit her. She can make food, clothes, and share in outreaches for charity. The sons can share while still young in serving the altar and then in Sunday Schools in the church. Or they can join in with working camps and various social activities. The girls can also serve in suitable areas maybe in teaching classes, looking after the creche, or serving in needle-work, knitting, and so on. Serving in the
church is a natural thing for every Christian family, because the
family is the basic cell for forming the church. It is an
inseparable part of the church and a vital organ in it.
Serving the church will also show the sons and daughters to be a
vital branch in Jesus' vineyard. They can't go astray from the
way of eternity. They achieve a sense of belonging and give
their efforts to God's house.
4. The Area Of Sacrificial Love
This is the deepest and most profound area of bearing witness,
where the family comes out of its shell and directs its attention
towards others: friends, neighbors, and everyone, with love
untainted fanaticism. For Jesus Christ has never known
fanaticism, but on the contrary, He fought fanaticism in His
disciples. When the Samaritan village refused to accept Jesus,
two of His disciples thought of asking for a heavenly fire to
come down and burn up the Samaritans. At that point Jesus
rebuked them saying: "You do not know what manner of spirit you
are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives
but to save them" (Lk 9:55, 56). And it actually happened that
these two disciples were inwardly changed and went to minister in
all areas, without discrimination between Jews and Gentiles.
Christ wants us - His children - to excel in opening our hearts,
spreading love and presenting our service with a highly positive
spirit. When a Pharisee, in order to justify himself, said:
"Who is my neighbor?", the Lord gave him the example of the Good
Samaritan that served the wounded Jew. He declared to the
Pharisee that the one he ought to show compassion to is the true
neighbor, not the one who belongs to the same sect or race.
Christianity is pervaded with the concept of love from the first
moment of creation till the end of the world, from the first
chapter of the Bible will the last. It is enough to know that
the most favorable way of describing God to us is that He is
love. That is why when hatred enters a person's heart God
departs from it that very moment. But when God possesses a
person's heart He widens its boundaries, till he or she loves the
whole world without being tainted by its lusts.
An elderly monk once said: "If you've shut yourself away to be
alone with God and haven't found consolation, get down to the
street, since you will find the image of Jesus in the first
person you meet."
Let's serve with all our love and energy, without expecting
praise or anything in return. For this we'll have praise from
God and that will satisfy us.
God bless our families for the glory of His Name. Amen!
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