EULESS, Texas (BP)–In the fourth century A.D., the great Roman Empire was crumbling and persecution against Christians was increasing. During that time, many Christians fled Rome to escape the pagan society as much as persecution. A certain Christian living in Rome discovered a novel idea designed for escaping persecution and paganism, without leaving Rome.
In the ruins of a large building, he found a freestanding 60-foot pillar. In spite of difficulty and with great skill, he managed to construct a crude ladder and climb his way to the top of the pillar. He then kicked away the ladder and watched it shatter into pieces as it hit the ground. There was no turning back now, no way of escape. And for the next 30 years, he called the top of this pillar “home.”
How did he survive all those years on a pillar 60 feet above ground? Well, when he climbed to the top, he had the foresight to take a rope and a bucket with him. On occasion he would lower the rope and people passing by would drop food in the bucket, or fill it with water, and he would pull up the rope. Believe it or not, this became somewhat of a trend among the early Christians. Others began to climb to the top of abandoned pillars and take up residence. These people colloquially came to be called “Pillar Saints.” Akin to these “Pillar Saints” were hermits who retreated to the barrenness of the desert to live in solitude. Many influential early Christian writings came from these “Desert Fathers.”
You have to respect the desire of these early Christians to escape the influence of the sinful world in order to give full concentration to a relationship with God. However, these “Pillar Saints” and “Desert Fathers” overlooked an essential element of spirituality: a right relationship with other people. God designed us in such a way that, if we’re not rightly related to others, especially our families, we cannot be completely happy. We all want and need good, positive, happy relationships with our families, friends and coworkers. But for many, these relationships aren’t working like they were meant to work. Many people don’t feel fulfilled in their role as a parent, or husband, or wife, or coworker, or friend. In fact many people are simply frustrated with their relationships, and they wonder what it takes to have good relationships. The Bible clearly gives us the answer to uncovering the mysteries of good relationships. Let’s focus right now on family relationships.
The Scriptures show us “what it takes” to have strong family relationships. Proverbs 17:17 states, “A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” From this truth, we learn how we can experience a healthy family. We must learn that to experience healthy family relationships, we must commit to loyalty and learn to love. A family member stays with you no matter what.
Our family members are, yes, fallible; they will make mistakes. Sometimes they make huge mistakes. Are you committed to them only as long as they do what you want them to do? Building a great family is about commitment. It begins with a commitment to give those people close to you your undying loyalty — even when they let you down, when they desert you, when they fail. You don’t have to condone what they have done, but you can continue be loyal.
This brings us to the second part of the biblical truth: a healthy family commits to love. The Scripture reads, “A friend loves at all times.” We live in a society that equates love with emotion. Most people think love is something you feel. And, of course, there are feelings associated with love. But here is the truth: Love is more than a feeling; it is something you do.
Love is a commitment you make that is stronger than any feelings you might have. Love is an attitude that says, “I want what is best for you.” Too often what we masquerade as concern for others is really just an attempt to get them to do what we want them to do, rather than what is best for them. When we commit to loyalty and commit to love in our family, we will find that these relationships will grow and develop, be strengthened and be renewed under God’s mighty hand. Commit to loyalty and love in your family today.
For more of Dr. Thomas’ resources, visit LifePoints, at www.firstonthe.net.