Becoming a Christian felt to me like a completely independent act. Something I just did, on my own, through reading books, practicing prayer and doing an Alpha course.
I remember feeling very alone in the dark and when I started to recognise the light of God, like a lighthouse beam searching for me, I thought how long a way back to Him I had to go. Without realising I had travelled deep into the darkness, His light, though warm, felt like a long way away from where I had spent most of my life.
However, with the benefit of hindsight, I can see that throughout the whole journey of meeting Roanna, realising that if I wanted to marry this girl I’d have to at least think about exploring my faith(!) to then meeting her family and learning from scratch how to be vulnerable with them (read: anyone!)… throughout all of this I was busy being discipled through family.
My wife and her family encouraged me to dig deeper into my faith without pressuring me or creating a shame culture. They gave me an example that I had never really seen before: they lived out a life that was dedicated to Jesus and made decisions based on prompting from the Holy Spirit or being guided by what scripture says. They prioritised the church, attending corporate gatherings even when the timings were difficult and they were fully involved and committed to bringing others closer to Jesus.
This example was exactly what I needed when I was new to faith. I needed to be shown how to live a Christ centred life and this family was showing me in practice, not just in theory. I had heard great preaches and read brilliant books on how to be a Christian but I struggled to relate that to my life. But, through my new family I was able to ask really basic questions and get answers that applied to my life and I got to do this over the dinner table where I felt comfortable enough to open up. It was all so new to me; vulnerability over curry and prophecy over dessert! They involved me in conversations about issues and challenges they were facing, I heard daily testimonies and got to listen in when they shared their views on church (quite the topic at the Prices’ table!). In short; I was able to see how a Christ centred family could work and I wanted more!
My discipleship has stepped up forward since moving into the same house as my in-laws last summer and living day by day with the family as a whole. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not always easy (did I mention we’ve had a baby in that time?!) but I get to see up close how each person walks out their faith. I love how everyone is committed to growing more like Jesus and how open everyone is about what they are grappling with. This has made me truly thankful that God has placed me in this family. It has encouraged me to get deeper with God, with scripture and with living a faith filled life.
“In short; I was able to see how a Christ centred family could work and I wanted more!”
This article is testament to how the nurture of a good family can help you step out in ways you would never have thought possible. I’m not a wordsmith like the Prices, words don’t come naturally to me, but over time with the encouragement of the family I’ve been able to pen this article and have grown in the process.
I think it’s easy to overlook the people that you live with as potential disciples. Lots of people look for discipleship from couples at church, maybe the pastor, but in the real world you only spend a few hours a week with these people whereas your family are walking with you every day. By creating a culture of mutual encouragement at home you can grow and learn together as a family. Bill Johnson talks about how he and his wife Beni used to make sure that they read the bible in the communal rooms of the house, not just limiting it to the bedroom or a private office. This practice encourages children to see their parents reading the bible regularly and makes reading the bible accessible for them. In Matthew 28:19 we are called to “…go and make disciples of all nations,” and I believe that this can start at home.
So I ask you, are you encouraging or being encouraged by your immediate family to walk closer with God?
Are your family looking more and more like Jesus every day?
For me, discipleship, true transformation, is at its best and most effective over dinner, with people who know and love every part of you. Dinner, and discipleship, now, where have I heard that before?