The Pew Research Center recently reported their findings on a important question? When asked the open-ended question about what brings the greatest meaning to their live, 69% of Americans said family. Family had no close competitor nor a replacement, not even friends and community. When asked “What is the most important source of meaning in your life?” – family was still number one. “Regardless of how materialistic, politically divided, and atomistic our culture gets, ” noted Glenn Stanton, “family and faith still play very substantial roles in the human heart.”
With all the changes in social values and family trends, the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan made this important discovery. “There is very little evidence that the commitment of Americans to children, marriage and family life has eroded substantially in the past two decades.” The researchers also noted, “compared to the 1970’s young Americans in the 1990’s were more committed to the importance of a good marriage and family life” In reviewing the material on marriage and family, Dr. Stanton concluded, “It’s why there will always be a robust job market for those working to strengthen both of relational aspects [family and marriage] in people’s lives. They are not only what people want, but what they need.”
We read in Psalms 68:5-6, “God in his holy dwelling is a father of the fatherless and a champion of widows. God provides homes for those who are deserted.” The Psalmist is describing a heavenly father who cares for those who are without family. The essence of our being persons is that we are relational. We are designed and defined by our relationships. All reality is relational, having been created by a personal, relational God. Loneliness is proof of our relational nature.
Stanton make this important observation about our relationships. “We must not forget that one of the most important aspects of being human is that we are made for others, and we cannot live in isolation…..the most important and meaningful places where people find these are with their family and with God….All other relationships and life-aspects orbit around these, and research shows this time and time again. Pew’s work in this report is simply the latest installment in this story.”
The Pew report is a reminder to men that we are relational beings. First, the assurance of our relationship to our heavenly Father. Our sense well being is found in knowing that God is our “abba” Father. “For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry ‘abba,’ Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children” (Rom. 5:15-26). Knowing our relationship to “abba” equips us to be relational.
Second, our commitment to family. Men, our true character is found within our families. God has placed you in an immediate and extended family. Accept this as his design for your spiritual journey. Remember God has not made a mistake in placing you in a unique family dynamic. Here you will find your calling as a man of God.
Third, you will be tested in your family relationships. Nothing keeps me more humble then family relationships. There will be individuals who are like “sandpaper,” whom God uses to get rid of wrong edges in your character.
Fourth, don’t forget that God has also placed you in a church family. There you will be pruned relationally. ‘Those who love their dream of a Christian community more than the Christian community itself become destroyers of that Christian community” (Bonhoeffer). When you join, you are not able to choose who are our brother and sisters.