Chapter 6: Life in Community
6. Life in Community : Children and the Family
Jesus said, “Let the children come to me, and do not hinder them; for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Children belong at the heart of the church community, for they remind us what it means to trust and to be free of heart. We welcome every child, just as Jesus welcomed each one. In all children, and especially in the unborn, we recognize the link between human life and eternity.
The family of father, mother, and children is a creation of God and must be held sacred. Parents have the God-given task of raising their children in his stead. Reverence for this relationship between parent and child is the essence of true family life. Such families form the basic unit of church community.
Our communities also include single-parent families. Single parents receive support from fellow members to ensure that their children grow up with both men and women as mentors and role models.
Each family in the church community is provided with its own living quarters in which to make its home in an atmosphere of security and peace. It is important to us to make good use of time at home with our children, including daily meals around the family table, and to avoid work-related distractions and other interruptions.
Unmarried men and women form an integral part of our common life. Single people whose families live elsewhere are welcomed into one of the families in their community for meals, weekends, and holidays such as Christmas.
We have reverence for the task of those members who remain single, whether by choice or by circumstance. They have a noble calling in the service of love, since they in a special way can give themselves selflessly for others. In their life of chastity, they give visible witness to Jesus’ call to purity and singleness of heart, testifying to the fulfillment that comes from leaving all for him.
Jesus loved his mother and siblings, yet declared in strong terms that obedience to the gospel must come before family ties: “While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, ‘Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.’ He replied to him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ Pointing to his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.’”
Placing loyalty to Jesus above all else can be difficult, but his words cannot be ignored. Family relationships within or beyond the community must not draw us away from following him.
* This online version of Foundations is for reference only. For the authoritative version, see the print edition.