Saturday, March 6, 2021

The domestic church. . .

Church buildings and congregations do not live in isolation from the domestic Church.  Quite the contrary, they are intimately and profoundly connected.  The Church in the home points to the congregation and beyond to the Church through the ages and eternal.  In return, these point to the Church in the home.  The family is not some extraneous aspect of the Church but an essential part of the Church.  What happens in the home, from parent to child, points to what happens in the Church and is fulfilled in the gathering of the family within the family the Church before God and in God's house.

Just as the greater Church needs to renewed by the Word of God and focused in prayer, so does the domestic Church need the same renewal.  Without this renewal both are destined to fail in the face of temptation, to succumb to the powers of fear and doubt, and to be lost in the maze of error that will befall us all without the blessing of God's Word and grace.  It is for both the domestic or little Church and the greater Church, a constant and abiding need to be trained up in righteousness and re-evangelized that compels both to the piety of devotion in God's Word and prayer as the fitting response of the faith that Word has brought to life and nurtured.

While this normally happens in the little Church from parent to child, the child can also teach the parent.  The simple and abiding trust of the child is often the longing of the jealous adult who finds is harder to trust and whose temptation is to act willfully instead of waiting prayerfully upon the Lord.  Yet it is not only for the family but for all estates.  The dwelling places of the single need even more the blessed instruction in God's Word and the fruitful response of obedience and prayer.  It is the Word of God that both reveals and fulfills the wise and loving plan of God for all estates and gives to those within those estates the comfort, consolation, guidance, and peace of His grace and mercy.  By securing our own lives and wills within the gracious will and purpose of God in Christ, our estates become less burden and more opportunity as the aim of both is to share in the love with which God has loved the entire world and find in this love hope and peace.  Constancy is not simply the call of the married any more than living a chaste life is only the domain of the single.  Yet both will soon become impossible burdens to bear without the riches of God's grace to guide and the depth of His mercy to forgive.

God loves humanity and has provided the gift of relationship no matter how that community is known and enjoyed.  Yet He has not left us to our own devices to do what seems right in our eyes.  He has instead bequeathed to us His Word to inform and shape us, the desires of our hearts and the aspirations of our minds. While it might be easier to presume how this works in the assembly of the redeemed within God's House, it is no less true for the domestic Church, for the homes in which God's people dwell and for the various estates that reflect those homes.  It is not only the gathered Church that needs the direction of the Lord's Word and the heart of prayer, but also this domestic Church and the strength of one directly impacts upon the other.  They should not and need not compete.  Each has a different focus but is formed from and by the same Word of the Lord and directed back to the Lord in the voice of prayer and praise.  They complement each other in the way that God has designed and when each are strong, both are strong but when either is weak, both suffer.

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