Today Pastor Ken preached about Ephesians 6, regarding the armor of God. In the context, he showed, it reflects Paul's concern for protection of the Church. He at one point said that the Church was Paul's primary concern, in contrast with how some people think it would be family, or individuals. We are to bear the armor of God as part of the protection of the Church, though it doesn't mean the other would not be true and commendable as well. I would say protection of the Church results in protection of the family.
I can testify to that! Our family would not exist were it not for the faith; I wonder at so many families that function, however dysfunctionally, without Christ, and how much better and safer their lives would be with faith at the center, with a solid church as their primary support.
I remember working at Boeing and hearing the verse, "The prayer of a righteous man availeth much" (James 5:16). I remember walking quite a ways from my work area, to a man I hardly knew--but I knew he was a Christian. I asked him to pray for our family, and I recited the verse to him. I then went back to my seat. That was shortly before I was a believer. Shortly after that, I came to faith.
Shortly after that, thanks to the recommendation of the woman in charge of our women's retreat with our church (which was the first church we attended, but I only came to Christ shortly before we changed churches, and my husband was not a believer there), I prayed that God would take the burden I was dealing with, trouble with my mother-in-law, and help me, because I could not understand what was going on.
The next day, in discussion with my in-laws, who (unbeknownst to me) my husband had invited over, we reached an impasse at all efforts to come to some agreement to work things out. I remember thinking that the only solutions in my hand were divorce or suicide. (I was only a brand-new Christian at this point.) Within minutes of that, I found out that my mother-in-law had been diagnosed two years previously with Alzheimers. I was the first in the family that my secretive father-in-law told, because it had affected our family in the worst way. Knowing that enabled me to understand so much, and excuse my mother-in-law for the hostility that I could attribute to her disease--I could forgive her, even though it still took a long time to fully do so. So faith saved our marriage and family at that point. Praise God!
A few years later I was pregnant and had gone in for an ultrasound, and left on a trip. While we were in Portland, I called the doctor who had been frantically trying to get a hold of me. She told me there over the phone that she thought I had an "ectopic" pregnancy and that I should terminate it, or could bleed to death--this, even though I thought I'd found a pro-life doctor. I wasn't about to. Any time I thought of doing so, I was disturbed. Whenever I thought there was no way I could do that, I had complete peace. I read through Psalm 139 many times in those days. Two weeks later another ultrasound revealed that it wasn't ectopic after all. It was a very tough pregnancy over all, and we weren't sure he would make it to birth, but our church was praying for our baby. Our ten-year-old son Tim is a testimony that faith is primary to family. Faith in Christ certainly was crucial in bringing him into our family unscathed.
As we drove home we discussed these things. Tim didn't realize that our marriage had been saved because of our faith; then he was reminded of his beginnings, and he thanked me for sparing his life--though it wasn't me, it was only by God's grace that his life was spared. Who knows how many of our family's stories of God's provision and protection he has not heard, or was too young to remember? I'm going to have to go over them with him again, and make sure he knows how our family can personally testify in so many ways to God's infinite goodness!
The Church is our family, in the most eternal sense and in many temporal ways as well. The Church is crucial to family and individual health. If the Church had not been protected over the last 2,000 years, but had succumbed to Satan's schemes, I would have made some horrible decisions. Our family would not be a unit any more; I might not be here; Tim would certainly not be here. Bearing the armor of God is for protection of the Church. Protection of the Church is family protection; it is self-protection. It is God's will, above all that, and in part, we might assume, because of all that.