I am one who happens to believe that moms and dads have distinctive roles in marriage and the family, as outlined in various New Testament passages, but most extensively in Ephesians 5. In real life, these days, there are many permutations of this formula, but the basic principle of initiator for men, and nurturer for women (especially in the context of marriage in this case) still seems to be God’s pattern for how he wishes this relationship to work.
On this Mother’s Day, I am especially impressed with the seemingly universal desire that mothers share to see their families nurtured through mutual love and care for one another. Meal-time planning, while still engaging the time and skills of most moms (even if they have work of one kind or another outside of their homes), isn’t only about ensuring a good diet for everyone in the family, but is also very much about a way to encourage family togetherness. Certainly it was so when I was a child and also in our own home as our children were growing up. One of my own mother’s strongest passions was to see her children sharing life together around a table of food, or otherwise — even for the extended family as that came to be.
Similarly, I think, it is one of the main purposes of the church that believers in Jesus Christ, as those who have become followers of him, be so united through faith in Christ that they long to share in a kind of continual communal experience. We are individually responsible for our lives before God, and we normally also share life in some form of the nuclear family, but through faith we are brought into a spiritual relationship with other members of Christ’s church that binds us to one another in a way that integrates our lives into a spiritual community. This is partly the significance of the Communion meal — a commemoration of the death of Jesus for our sins, but also a reminder of our common life in Jesus Christ.
Just as mothers desire to see their family members share in the experience of true love and care for one another — around the table and otherwise, so it is that God longs for his children to share in the community that is grounded in the very life of his son, Jesus Christ. One of the most sacred privileges of those who are Christians is to share in the fellowship of Christ’s church. Too often, we take this for granted, don’t really appreciate it, or even despise it. Yet, if the truth be known, there is no brotherhood on earth like the brotherhood of the church of Jesus Christ.
And so we need to do whatever it takes to guard and pursue the fellowship of this spiritual community. Obviously there are many obstacles and discouragements in this regard, just as there are in the family. But by God’s grace, by the Word and prayer, we can rise above these challenges to love our brothers and sisters in Christ as God intended, and to pursue the reality of one another’s edification. A wonderful list of things we can do in order to accomplish this, is given to us in Romans 12.
As you think of the unique contribution that mothers universally make to the glue-factor in family relations, may it remind you of God’s intention to similarly gather all of his children together in the practice of their love and care for one another.