Millions fail to realize that God is a Family! Understanding God's Family can help your family enjoy more happiness, unity and productivity.
The perfect family does it exist? Your first impulse might be to consider your own family growing up, or your present family with all its human imperfections, and your answer probably is, "Absolutely not!" But is that true? Are all families flawed — imperfect? In the human realm, never yet has there been the "perfect" marriage with perfect parents for perfect children. But there is a perfect family — a family that has set the example and is a model for our human family relationships as husbands, wives, parents and children. The two great Beings who control the universe, God the Father and Jesus Christ, are a Family! In Genesis 1:1 the Hebrew word translated "God" is Elohim, which is a plural noun or name. As the English word family implies more than one person, so the Hebrew word Elohim means more than one. "In the beginning Gods created the heavens and the earth" would be a better translation. Presently the God Family consists of two members — God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son. It is this very Family of God into which true Christians will be born at the return of Jesus Christ. (If you have not already done so, send immediately for a free copy of Editor-in-Chief Herbert W. Armstrong's eye-opening book The Incredible Human Potential.) Together God the Father and Jesus Christ set a perfect example of happy, productive family life. Jesus said of God the Father that we should strive to become "perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48). And of their personal relationship, Jesus said, "I and My Father are one" (John 10:30). They have proven through eternity that their way of living really works. Following their example will work for you, too. Isn't that what every family wants? Unity? Cooperation? Happiness? Harmony? Don't you deeply desire a productive family that gives each member a sense of purpose, a feeling of belonging and opportunities for growth and accomplishment — a family that is an oasis of love and a haven of peace? The God Family wants that for you. They want your physical family to enjoy what they enjoy, experience what they experience, savor what they savor. But do you? Are you enjoying a richly satisfying family life, or is it marred by conflict and unhappiness, punctuated by tensions and frustrations? Be honest. All of us are victims of fleshly weaknesses. All of us fall far short of God's glory. But we can rise above these weaknesses and do a better job of living. We can, that is, if we strive to follow the God Family's perfect example of successful family living.
Be united in love
What unites God the Father and Jesus Christ? What binds them together? The answer is a rather simple-sounding word — love! That is the one best word to describe what God is. The apostle John wrote, "God is love" (I John 4:8). God and Christ have expressed that love by first adhering to their own spiritual, immutable laws. They gave those laws to mankind — the Ten Commandments. Unfortunately, very few humans have really practiced those laws as God and His Son practice them. Those laws form the very basis for their family relationship. And they should form the basis for yours. The family relationship would then center on living not only by the letter but by the spirit and principle of these laws. Constant harmony would result. Living by God's laws helps one always be in a right attitude of service and devotion to the family. From the God Family that love radiates beyond them, touching the lives of their future Family members — humans who are destined to be born into the God Family. But what about your family? Is it united by the same type of love as God's Family? Or is it instead divided by strife, indifference and resentment? Selfishness can strangle your family, quenching harmony and happiness. Hostile words, seething anger and refusal to address problem areas can gash deep wounds that are painful and slow to heal. Family life doesn't have to be this way. Husbands, wives and children can be liberated from the cruel bondage of selfishness to experience the freedom of godly love — a freedom that brings joy and contentment. This godly love is produced by obedience to the God Family's laws. You need to begin to apply the principles of these laws! It may sound easy, but sometimes it's not. It may take far more effort than you imagined. But it can be done. And it will produce results. Take time to evaluate how you relate to other family members. Ask yourself how important they are to you. Then analyze how you can better express that importance — whether by mere lip service, or by showing a positive, outgoing concern — by your actions! Be specific. Do you really try to understand their physical, spiritual and emotional needs? How much are you willing to sacrifice for them? Are you willing to turn off the television to talk with your children? Are you willing to set aside your personal plans to take the family somewhere they want to go? Look deeply into how you relate to your mate and to your children. Do you find anything missing? Are there areas that need improvement? Since none of us is perfect, there are always many flaws to correct. The trouble is, many families never get around to even analyzing what the problems are — much less setting goals to correct them. Maybe you have been trying hard to improve. Yet despite your best intentions you probably still fall short. But at least do something. It does no good to sit there. Good intentions never solved a problem. And a little progress is better than no progress at all.
Who's in charge?
One of the most important reasons for the success of God's Family is the understanding of government — who's in charge around here. During His earthly ministry Jesus said: "I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me" (John 5:30). He later said, in John 14:28, that His Father was clearly greater than He. That is, greater in authority. It is the Father who makes the final decisions regulating the rulership of the universe and the plan of salvation. Through this system of government, the God Family maintains harmony. It has never failed them, because the Father always exercises loving authority and the Son responds with willing submission. Authority is also necessary in our human families to ensure goals are accomplished and harmony prevails. God Himself has structured leadership into the family. The apostle Paul wrote about the family structure: "For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body" (Ephesians 5:23). And he added, "Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right" (Ephesians 6:1). The only way to have a successful family is to apply the laws God reveals. Jesus set the example. He obeyed His Father. Have you grown to accept the responsibility and authority of the family structure as God designed it? Millions in this modern age haven't. As a husband, are you using your position as head of the household to serve the best interests of your family? Or are you a dictatorial tyrant? Or, on the other hand, have you abdicated your responsibility to be a loving head of the family — not leading in the decisions that must be made? Let's face it. Many husbands and fathers fail to properly exercise loving authority by either ignoring the family's needs or by indulging themselves. Do those of you who are wives willingly submit to your husband's place as head of the family? Do you support his decisions or try to get your own way? Rebellion or even subtle manipulation is wrong and must be avoided to have a happy family. The key, once again, is to practice God's government. He is the author of family life and family law. There is only one way to succeed, and that is to follow the Maker's instruction manual. Children should be taught from infancy to recognize and willingly submit to parental authority. If that authority reflects the love and concern of God, they will learn the value of loving parents and be able to be loving parents when they marry and have their own families. Through loving authority and willing submission, your family can have happiness and harmony.
Live the truth
Truth is an important element in the God Family. It guides the thinking of God and Christ and determines their actions. As David said in Psalm 33:4, "For the word of the Lord is right, and all His work is done in truth." What does truth produce? Much. Total honesty. Right motivation. Correct ideas. So much more. All of these then build trust, ensure unity and produce success. As a family you need to rise above deception, false values and wrong beliefs. Reach for the truth that will end arguments, prevent hypocrisy and build trust. Unfortunately, in some families the truth is cast aside and trampled underfoot by self-justification. What a tragedy to see a family torn apart by strife, unable to heal itself because family members cling to distorted views of themselves. Jesus tells us that such strife can be eliminated: "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" (John 8:31-32). If we go to God's Word for our standard and beliefs, then improvements in our attitudes and actions can be made. Blessings will result.
Share feelings and experiences
God the Father and Jesus Christ enjoy being together. They enjoy doing things together and talking together. Together they have been working on their plan of salvation. Throughout history they have shared trials, joys and hopes in dealing with humanity. Before the Flood they experienced the pain of a whole society that departed from God's way so severely that they had to destroy the world that then was. In the future they will rejoice at the birth of millions, then billions, into their great Family.
Together God the Father and Jesus Christ set a perfect example of happy, productive family life. Following their example will work for you, too.
Strive to improve! Your joys will far outnumber your sorrows, your successes outnumber your failures and your laughter outweigh your tears.
You will also have joys and sorrows in your own family. But if you constantly strive to improve your relationship, to live by the laws of God's Family, your joys will far outnumber your sorrows, your successes outnumber your failures and your laughter outweigh your tears. As you share your experiences as a family, you will find your motivation and desire to spend even more time together will increase. Your horizons will expand. Your personalities will improve. You will build better character. Family conversations will become joyful experiences. There is enormous power in the words you speak. Learn to speak with positive conviction. Avoid negative tones and criticism. Examine yourself first. Look at the fruits of your own conversations. Are they eliminating problems or enlarging them? Are they conveying valuable knowledge or worthless gossip? Are they drawing you closer together as a family or separating you? Conversation is the key to understanding each other. God and Christ have perfect communication — see what you can do about following their example in this vital area of family life. Both God the Father and Jesus Christ are diligent workers. In describing that quality, Jesus said, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working" (John 5:17). Though they are active in many different roles, they each have specific areas of service. The Father, for example, answers our prayers (John 16:23); Jesus is our Intercessor (Hebrews 7:25). Through teamwork they cooperate with each other to run the broad expanse of the universe and serve millions of spiritual and physical beings. The fruits — the beauty of God's creation and His awesome plan of salvation — are incredible. Teamwork, not competition, should prevail in every family. Each family member has different talents and proclivities. Each should use them in his own unique way, with individual effort, but within the framework and purpose of the team. This is one reason God has placed government in the family. Each member must work together for the common good while fulfilling individual responsibilities. As leaders of the team, husbands are responsible to be the primary provider for the family. This responsibility is not only to provide physical necessities, but also includes training, teaching and providing spiritual guidance. Wives and mothers contribute as homemakers, a task that requires dedication, education and hard work. In some cases she must supplement the family income. But at all times her goal is to provide love and care for her family. The high standards of a wife and mother are best described in Proverbs 31. Children must understand their parts in family life. Obedience to parents and family values contributes to the well-being of the family. But that does not just happen. Teaching, time and example all contribute to a child's understanding and willingness to obey. Just as much as the parents, children are responsible for bringing happiness to the family.
Reap the rewards
What do all these principles — godly love, family government, truth, sharing and teamwork — produce? The beautiful thread that should pass through and tightly bind the fabric of every family — the thread of unity. Yes, unity — that wonderful quality that holds us together in hard times and brings us joy in good times. It binds us with a common purpose, but permits us to recognize our individuality. It provides us an island of rest in a sea of instability. Isn't this what we all want? Aren't these the qualities that enrich life, bringing joy and happiness? As David said, "Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!" (Psalm 133:1). You can have these qualities. Maybe not all at once. But you can start now to develop them. They will produce good fruits. If you're tired of family frustrations, fights and failures, heed the words of Jesus Christ: "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). God's Family has set the example. Examine its qualities — see how you can apply them in your own family life. Then ask God your Father for the strength and guidance to become a family like His Family. You will fulfill the very purpose for your existence!