Bishop Matthew Thomas<br />To read more from Bishop Thomas, visit fmcusa.org/matthewthomas.
We live in an age of the individual — individual freedom, expression, meaning and satisfaction. In God’s design, the individual paradoxically gains greatest satisfaction and finds core meaning in relationships. People find themselves when they love and serve God and others.
God expresses Himself most fully through the church (Ephesians 1:22–23; 4:11–16) rather than individuals. Our relationship with our family is a significant qualifier for fit service (1 Timothy 3:4–5, 5:8; 1 Peter 3:7). Paul set an example by subordinating self-interest for the salvation and maturity of others (1 Corinthians 9:19–22; Colossians 1:28–29). His greatest joy was gained in unity (Philippians 2:1–4). In short, we are whole only as we are whole in our relationships. We are effective only as we are effective in our relationships. We feel connected only as we are connected in our relationship with God and others.
If you want to change the world, make sure you have healthy relationships close to you — God, family, friends, church and co-workers. If all is well close to home, you stand a better chance to make all well in the world. Don’t look too far beyond before you look very carefully to those who are close. I can’t think of better preparation for global ministry than to have healthy family relationships and whole relationships.
If you are from a fractured family, don’t despair. God has prepared a family that augments and enlarges our sense of family. The church was designed to be where brothers and sisters of a different and sometimes more intimate variety provide nurture, love, support and discipline missing in many family relationships.
I have spoken with women sold by their parents to sex traffickers, adults abandoned at birth and people ravaged by the murder of their parents. In each case, loss of home was inescapable and brutal, yet God’s surrogate family — the church — became home and family, restored and even enlarged where none existed previously.
Whether home with family or church, please make sure that nothing divides. If there is division, do everything within your power to fix it. All may not be entirely well with the world if all is well with you and your family, but it will be much better.0