The other day my wife said that the pursuit of the cause of Christ would be infinitely easier if I didn’t have a family.
She said it casually, kindly, towards the end of a conversation we were having about pursuing missionary work. She said if not for the obligation to care and support a family one could easily pursue the work of God.
She has a biblical case.
She trotted out Jesus’ statement, “And there are also eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake for the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept this, let him accept it.”
And she mentioned Paul who indicated that the married man or woman who has divided affections, serving the spouse, the children, could not give the full weight of their attention to the cause of Christ.
“Yet I wish that all men were even as I myself am. However, each man has his own gift from God, one in this manner, and another in that.” 1 Corinthians 7:7
Egg Drop Soup for Breakfast
Sensing that I wasn’t seeing her point she suggested that we wouldn’t have the house to sell or the multiple cars needed in today’s mobile society to be agile. If I was a bachelor, my accommodations would be meager, a pillow and mat in some hostile that cost me $60 a month.
All my belongings in a back pack. Egg drop soup for breakfast, bananas for lunch.
While there is something noble about the devotion and simplicity of being single to serve the cause of Christ, I hardly think it is something to be cherished by a man who is married and with children. Paul said, “Each man must remain in the condition in which he was called.” It seems that Paul was perhaps combating the acts of some Christians who abandoned their family for Christ.
Of course my wife wasn’t suggesting I abandon the family, just merely suggesting that I probably dream about the simplicity of being single to champion the cause of Christ.
Okay. Fair enough.
Lone Missionary v. the Family
The longing to be single to pursue the cause of Christ, in the name of Christ, is a very real temptation. Yet to indulge that temptation would do nothing but sully my testimony of Christ.
To justify with a cold calculation that I could possibly impact more people because I had more freedom by sacrificing my family could quite possibly be one of the most damaging things I could do–both to my family and to Christ.
The other thing that did not sit well with me, and a notion that did not occur to me until afterwards, is that God would get more glory in a family championing the cause of Christ than a single person doing the same thing.
In fact, we expect the single Christian to live unencumbered, to devote a large degree of their time and energy into the causes of Christ. We simply don’t see it as being much of a sacrifice.
We expect them to have a near-reckless faith.
A lone missionary travelling to Nigeria makes sense. A family with small children, on the other hand, is a different story.
When God Gets the Greater Glory
To even engineer that move is woefully complex. Passports, shots and finances. And the dangers are very real. The cemeteries of mission fields hold the graves of missionaries, many of whom are small children. Yet it is done hundreds, if not thousands, of times a year.
And it is that type of sacrifice and obedience that gives greater glory to God. The larger the family and the longer they stay the greater the burden, but the more grace from God needed, and the more glory that God gets in the end.
For someone like me who is prone to thinking he must achieve something great–a body of literary work that spans centuries, for example–a family is paramount to keeping him grounded and ever trusting in God for what is truly important in this life.
A corpus that cements my existence in the collective memory for a century or two is a failure if it is done at the expense of one’s family.
As Jesus said, “For a man who wishes to save his life will lose it, but the man who loses it for my sakes will find it.”
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