Dry-cleaning, grocery shopping, meal-prepping, lunch packing, laundry, gifts for birthdays, holidays, and special occasions. I can never fully check these things off my list, and this is just the beginning. I like to get things done, so this revolving to-do list seems problematic.
But, what if God is specifically calling me to these things? Would that change my attitude when I fold yet another load of laundry, make an extra trip to the grocery store, cook dinner for the billionth time, or mail one more package?
You bet it would.
Well, guess what? God is calling me to do these things. He is calling to me love and serve my family, and these are just a few small ways I do that.
Os Guinness’s classification of calling as primary and secondary is this: our primary calling is always to a relationship with God. From our relationship with God flow secondary callings to family, work, community, and church.
This is a different way of thinking about God’s calling in our lives, particularly when many people spend most of their waking hours working in a job. Our calling goes far beyond our job; it includes our work in all aspects of life and in all relationships, including and especially family.
Loving and serving our families can be hard. We may be able to choose a spouse, but we are born into a messy network of sinful individuals, and we have no control over it. Conflict is inevitable. Especially in difficult circumstances, it’s hard to remember that even though we are powerless over choosing the family we are born into, God isn’t. He put us there.
The question is, why?
God Uses Family to Work in the Lives of His People
God created family in the very beginning before sin entered the world. The original peace and flourishing that was present in the Garden of Eden – shalom – included the relationship between Adam and Eve. The first marriage was perfectly good, untouched by sin, without shame, blame, or guilt. It’s hard to imagine that today!
When God created Eve and brought her to Adam, Adam exclaimed, “At last!” (Gen. 2:23). God’s union of Adam and Eve, the creation of a new family, was purposeful and good. It wasn’t until after Adam and Eve were joined that God charged them with the cultural mandate: to work.
Fast forward to the very end of God’s redemptive narrative, the chapter of Restoration. We see the same exclamation of joy, love, and intimacy at the marriage supper of the Lamb:
Hallelujah! For the Lord our God the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready (Rev. 19:6-7).
Marriage on earth is a powerful metaphor God uses to reflect Christ’s relationship with his people. God’s majestic story of the whole creation begins with a familial relationship and ends with an image of the eternal family of God’s church.
In between, Scripture is full of stories about how God uses family to work in the lives of his people and in his kingdom.
Family must be an inherently good construct from God.
Family Is Integral to Calling
Marriage gives us a glimpse of Christ’s relationship with the church. It’s a place where we can sacrificially emulate Christ’s love. It’s certainly an agent of sanctification. Marriage is one aspect of family, but family is also more.
It’s a vehicle for fulfilling God’s ultimate calling in our lives.
We talk about the cultural mandate a lot at IFWE: God’s command to “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 28).
The cultural mandate is confirmed again after the Fall in the Great Commission: to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:16-20). This is our job description!
How does family fit into our job description? Family is a vehicle for us to fulfill the cultural mandate and the Great Commission – to multiply, have dominion, and make disciples.
God gave you family to accomplish his will, further his kingdom, make disciples, love sacrificially, and reflect his goodness to the watching world. Family doesn’t compete with God’s calling in our lives; it’s an integral part of it.
No two families are alike, so how God calls YOU to your family may look different from how he calls me.
Without a doubt, you can know that God calls you to love your family as he loves his people — with patience, kindness, peace, gentleness, selflessness, sacrifice, grace, mercy, joy, and thanksgiving.