The death of a local church does not come suddenly. Neither is the home destroyed "overnight." With the home it is usually the result of certain fatal steps taken over a lengthy period of time. As we travel the road toward the break-up of our homes, let us examine how our careless conduct will ultimately destroy the strength of the local church. Many of the problems affecting the church begin in our homes!
Selfishness. This is the number one enemy of a happy home life and is a killer to the local church. No one is willing to give up what he wants to do to submit to the will of another. The apostle Paul prefaced his statements regarding the husband/wife relationship with these words, "Giving thanks always for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; subjecting yourselves one to another in the fear of Christ" (Eph. 5:20-21). Consider also these words, "Doing nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others" (Phil. 2:3-4). Wouldn't that solve a lot of ills in the family and in the church? Paul described Timothy, "For I have no man likeminded, who will care truly for your state." Notice the contrast in the next verse, "For they all seek their own, not the things of Jesus Christ" (Phil. 2:20-21). Often, what causes problems in our marriage, is the same thing that causes problems in the church. Jesus said, "If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me" (Matt. 16:24). Maybe if both marriage partners denied self and learned to submit to the Lord, it would go a long way toward submitting to each other!
Disillusionment. Often before marriage, expectations are just not realistic. After we have been married for a while faults begin to show up in our companion that we did not notice in the courtship period. These faults grow into nagging sources of irritation. When it reaches the point of intolerance, each decides that he has made a terrible mistake in his marriage. Sometimes, we are disillusioned about what a Christian is. Jesus spoke of "counting the cost" of discipleship, "If any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his own father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple... whosoever he be of you that renounceth not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:25-35). Many are glad to become Christians if it means "social activities" or club-like membership, but when we learn there is work and responsibility involved then we look for faults with the church. Indeed, I have made a commitment that requires that I first give myself unto the Lord before all others. Perhaps it is the realization that "not everyone that saith unto me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven" (Matt. 7:21). Upon reflection, I find this "too narrow" (cf. Matt. 7:13-14) to include those I want to include. Then "faults" with the church become magnified to the point of intolerance and we decide we have made a terrible mistake.
End of faithfulness. We give up. No further efforts are made to build a happy home. Communication ceases, love fades and gives way to bitterness. We find ourselves merely housekeeping and no longer enjoying and fulfilling the God-given purpose in marriage. This too, extends into our feelings toward the church. Having developed a selfish attitude, we explain, "I just don't get anything out of it anymore." The faults I find have now become intolerable and no efforts are made to build the church by my own personal faithfulness. I no longer support the Bible classes, attend gospel meetings or other special functions designed toward edification. My love for brethren and the Lord gives way to bitterness. I find myself merely housekeeping for the Lord and no longer experience the joy of being a Christian. As adultery invades the home, destroying our relationship with our spouse, spiritual adultery has already destroyed our relationship with the Lord and robbed the church of its most valuable assets - its members.
Sin destroys from the inside out. If we would preserve the happiness of our homes and secure the success of the church, we must strive to exclude sin from our lives. If you want to help strengthen the church for the future (including our children), let us begin in our homes!