Sabbath School Lesson for May 11-17, 2019
Keys to unity in the family structure include these themes:
- making Christ the center of our lives (Sunday)
- using God’s love to make unity a reality for our families (Monday)
- recognizing that pride and selfishness are the cause of most disunity (Tuesday)
- knowing how to submit to each other (Wednesday)
- realizing that commitment plays a part in unity, especially for marital partners (Thursday)
The unity of the church depends on its smallest unit. Therefore, individual families must experience unity, in order for God’s people to work as one and the mission of the church to go forward most successfully.
Our sinful natures most often make unity a challenge, however, making God’s grace a necessity for overcoming the many obstacles that hinder family unity, both in past generations, and especially in today’s fast-paced world.
Memory Text: ” ‘ That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.’ “ John 17:21 NKJV
Unity was a central theme when Jesus prayed for His disciples (as recorded in John 17). They would need to be unified for the work of spreading the gospel.
But also, unity would be an illustration to the world of the nature of the unity that exists within the godhead. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, working side by side to provide salvation and security to the universe, is seen in the way family members conduct themselves in the context of love and submission to each other.
When this unity happens, not only is our reconciliation to each other possible, but our reconciliation to God becomes a reality. Both are needed for families to reach the ideal God intended for us in the beginning.
Sunday: Christ the Center
The easiest way for families to come together in unity is to have Christ as the center of their lives. With Him as the foundation, the cornerstone, not only of the church, but of the family, the most pronounced benefits can be realized.
Imagine the spokes of a wheel, all pointing toward the center of this circular structure. As they get closer to the center, they become visibly closer to each other. This is what happens when Christ becomes the center of our lives. His example, will, and love must fill our hearts and influence our interactions with each other.
When individual family members have been baptized with the Holy Spirit and become new creatures, the artificial barriers that separate us disappear.
Even in the Jewish temple, separations were visible–between men and women, Jews and Gentiles. But this was not God’s original plan. There has to be equality for unity to exist in any lasting form. Just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are equal.
Ellen White tells us, “The closer we come to Christ, the nearer we shall be to one another.” The Adventist Home, p. 179. Thus, true equality will be realized among God’s people as we draw nearer to Him.
Read Ephesians 2:13, 14, 18 and Galatians 3:28. What divides family members, and what is the remedy for this condition?
Read Romans 6:4-7 and 2 Corinthians 5:17. How do we know that Christ makes a difference in our family life?
Read Ephesians 4:31, 32. How does our communication affect our unity?
Monday : Becoming One Through His Love
Putting on Christ means learning to love like He did. Jesus recognized that His love would make all the difference in His disciples’ unity.
Keeping the commandments was not enough, doing all the requirements of God without His love as the motive, would not bring them together as united brethren, on fire to serve God with zealous, heartfelt thanks.
Jesus told us to ” ‘Love each other as I have loved you.’ “ John 15:12 NIV How precious is that love, when it comes to having family happiness and unity as well. 1 Corinthians 13 is the best description of that love. We find there all the identifying marks of the traits that make for a happy home and marriage, and for a united church.
Read John 17:21, 22. Why is unity important for God’s family?
Read 1 Thessalonians 3:12 and 1 John 4:8. How does love contribute to knowing God?
Read Mark 3:17, 1 John 2:5 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. How do we know that John himself needed to have his love perfected? What does perfect love look like?
Tuesday: Selfishness–Family Destroyer
Selfishness is easy to spot in a young toddler. When a baby begins to develop communication skills, that unlovely character trait often becomes evident. “Me, me” is a typical refrain heard during the day, as young ones try to be recognized.
Unfortunately, that same selfishness, leading to pride, is demonstrated by many adults. Without the Holy Spirit, we would all be reduced to that infantile stage of self-seeking behavior.
God’s families are called to a higher standard, however. We must walk as Jesus walked, conducting ourselves with humility and unselfish compassion by loving in word and deed.
When this transformation happens to individuals, families will be the first to notice, and family unity will be much more likely to happen. Total unity is possible when all members are bathed in Christ’s love, and selfishness is a thing of the past.
Read Ephesians 4:24. What is the most effective, lasting way for us to lose our selfish, human tendencies?
Read 1 John 2:6 and 3:16-18. How do we love like Jesus loved? What does this kind of love look like in the family?
Read Ephesians 2:3-5. In what ways did Jesus show humility? Why is humility needed in order for our selfishness to disappear?
Everyone agrees that Christ needs to be central in our families and that selfishness and pride must be avoided in order to be united in the love of God. It’s with the theme of submission that many find themselves mentally confused and resistant.
Paul addressed three of the most powerful social figures of his time, and their power still resonates strongly in our culture today. Husbands, parents, and masters/employers still hold much power over wives, children, and slaves/employees.
Our reverence for Christ can and should motivate us to submit to these social figures. Each time in Ephesians 5:22-6:9, Paul qualifies our submission. Wives are told to submit “as to the Lord”. Children are to submit to parents “in the Lord”. And slaves are to labor “as to Christ”.
Looking to Christ as our example of humble submission, all the potentially harmful results of these relationships can be transformed and used to glorify our Lord.
Read Matthew 20:26-28 and John 13:4, 5, 14. Why does service to others require humility? How important is the foot-washing ordinance (a symbol of humility), still observed in some churches before taking communion?
Read Ephesians 5:18-21. Why is being filled with the Holy Spirit necessary for us to be able to submit to one another? Does this submission include husbands, parents, and masters (v. 21)?
Read Ephesians 5:22, 6:1, and 6:5. Why is Christ needed for us to submit as we should? Who usually has a harder time submitting: those under authority, or those in authority?
Thursday: Living the Love We Promise
Countless times in the Bible, we read about God’s promise not to leave or forsake us. This level of commitment, despite all we’ve done to spurn His love, is unmatched in the universe. But the same kind of commitment is necessary for families to be all God intended them to be.
The stronger the commitment of husbands and wives, siblings, parents, and other family members, the stronger will be the family itself. It is only through commitment that love can be nourished and the family be able to survive the harsh trials that come to each of us.
God has promised to give us His love, in order for us to make firm, lasting commitments to loved ones. And it’s only through that love that our promises can be kept.
Some examples of commitment are seen in the stories of…
- Jacob and Esau, being gentle in leading their families (Genesis 33:12-14)
- Moses, being hid by his family and adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter (Exodus 2:1-10)
- Ruth’s desire to follow Naomi to her homeland (Ruth 1:16-17)
Read Hebrews 13:5. How does Jesus’ promise to be with us cause us to be content with what we have in life?
Read Hosea 1:2. Why was the prophet Homer told by God to marry a harlot? How would this illustration help the Israelites see how they were being a “harlot” with God?
Read Ruth 1:16-17. Why is this passage sometimes used in marriage ceremonies? How does it show us that all family members should exhibit the same level of commitment and trust as husbands and wives?
We can see the need for unity in the family with the illustration of a stick. One stick alone can be easily broken in half. But when you bind a pile of sticks together with a cord, they become impossible to break apart. That cord might be seen as God’s love.
For those who braid hair, two strands of hair (like a husband and wife) will easily fall apart when twisted into a braid. But adding that third strand is what holds it together. We all need a third strand in our marriage and families, also representing the love of God.
In other words, the main secret to family unity and happiness is not…
- better communication
- improved management
- professional counseling
Although these things may be important to its success, the overreaching need is for God’s Spirit to infiltrate the hearts of individuals in the family. Only with Christ can our earthly families be all they are meant to be in the family of God.
Being content in God’s love is the only solution to the vast amounts of modern idolatry seen in the world today, leading to disunity. Everyone wants a bigger and better car, house, wardrobe, computer, you-name-it.
Instead of longing for material possessions, we should be desirous of knowing God better. Only His love has been known to fill the void in our hearts and truly transform us and unite our families.
Next Week’s Lesson: Season of Parenting
To read the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly or see more resources for its study, go to https://www.absg.adventist.org/
Other Outlook blogposts by Teresa Thompson, are at http://outlookmag.org/author/teresathompson/
Tip for Sabbath School Teachers: Be sure and read Ed Dickerson’s recent series of blogs and learn how to be a great facilitator for any small group study!
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