SUPPORTING FAMILIES THROUGH OUR CHURCHES
Churches that want to continue playing a part in building a Black community that is strong, vibrant and prosperous, and where its members participate fully in civic society, need to give more support to the family. Ours is a community, where a large number of families are characterised by lone parents, a seemingly high incidence of family breakdown and divorce, and fatherlessness. These factors can and have led to emotional brokenness and to pain, poverty, underachievement, crime, gangs and some of the other problems that affect our community.
Churches serious about strengthening the family will have to assist people to develop healthy relationships with God, themselves and others; as well as encourage marriage; support married couples and lone parents; provide mentoring and activities for youth; mediate and reconcile broken families, and unite fathers estranged from their children. And, in light of the increased secularisation of our society, it’s beholden upon churches to reiterate the biblical perspective on the issues many Christians are struggling with and that are impacting our families, like pre-marital sex, dating, divorce, adultery, broken families and the like, as well as offer hope and healing for those who may fall short of the biblical ideal.
One of the key things our churches can continue to do is remind people of the role that love and respect play in fostering great family and marital relationships. Love for God – and a healthy love for self – will provide individuals with the impetus to reach out to others in love, and treat them how they would like to be treated themselves. And this type of agapé love is much needed, particularly amongst our youth, some of whom seem trapped in a cycle of self-loathing and violence, which has cut short many young lives.
The church community is filled with numerous individuals, who can share how their faith in God and the teachings of the Church enabled them to obtain emotional healing and support, experience wholeness, find partners, restore broken marriages, be reconciled with estranged families, and much more. And it isn’t surprising that this is the case. Our churches are the Black community’s ‘fourth emergency service’. It is the institution to which we turn, when we experience crises in our lives and, when it’s operating at its optimum, it delivers. The Church has a major role to play in continuing to help our community reach its potential – and you know what? I believe it’s up to the task. Hope you do, too. Here’s to happy families.
GREATNESS STARTS WITH SERVING
So much talk these days, on how to be great, is being propagated by the plethora of self-appointed motivational speakers and gurus that have sprung up in recent years. The greatness they talk about is usually characterised by attaining professional success, generating wealth, or having exceptional amounts of influence over others. Whilst there’s nothing wrong in having these types of aspirations, the greatness alluded to is totally at odds with Jesus’ definition of greatness.
In Mark 10:43-45, Jesus addressed His disciples stating, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
Christ’s words are a reminder that Christians need to be mindful that, whatever position of wealth, success or worldly influence we might have, greatness is gained by serving others with a servant’s heart. This will entail using our talents, position and influence to build, to encourage, to support, to challenge, to inspire and to help others reach their potential and fulfil their goals.
So, in 2015, let’s endeavour to see our positions of influence as God-given, where we can follow the path carved out for us by Jesus to serve humanity and, in the process, be considered great in Christ’s Kingdom.
TONGUE-LASHING LEADERS IN LOVE
Prior to the start of the Christmas holidays, Pope Francis delivered a scathing message to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Vatican, outlining 15 ailments that, in his view, were negatively affecting the work of the church office. Ailments listed included: the ‘terrorism of gossip’, the disease of feeling ‘immortal and essential’, the pathology of power, working too hard, being indifferent to others and forming cliques.
According to reports, the Pope’s speech received a lukewarm response from the gathered church leaders. Hardly surprising really, but he has to be commended for his tough talk to ministerial leaders – and other churches should take note. It’s so easy for Christian leaders to lose sight of their true mission, instead getting caught up in the trappings of power and influence that go with their office. Not only do leaders have to stay close to Jesus to prevent this from happening, sometimes they have to be reminded of the reasons why they were called into ministry in the first place, and be called back to basics.
If you lead a church, and you can sense that your leaders are moving away from their core mission, don’t be afraid to whip them into line with a biblically-inspired tongue-lashing. You’ll be doing your parishioners a favour, and helping your leaders align themselves with God’s purpose – something we all need to do.