Michael and Sandy’s worldview has been shaped by their home.  While the father is a dedicated construction worker and the mother is a faithful homemaker, these children have a worldview which sees limited parental involvement, limited encouragement and love. Michael and Sandy along with their family, faithfully attend Sunday Service, participate in many of the church activities but at the end of the day, the children leave the tranquil environment and return to their world of viewing parents who are consistent strangers in their lives. 

The above story is played out in many of our homes, week after week as families who bear the name "Christian," isolate the redemptive work of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and fail to see that the Gospel impacts every area of life. The family unit is best served when the Gospel is the foundation for the marriage and parenting. Understandably, there are many homes in which the family unit has been fractured because of divorce, death or there is one parent in the home. Needless to say, the Gospel brings hope to all these family situations. 

Paul in writing to the believers in Thessalonica has a great love and passion for those who have come to know the Lord.  In 1 Thessalonians 2, Paul appeals to the role of parents and their interaction with children to describe his love for the Thessalonians. There is a great deal that Christian families can learn from Paul and how he viewed the Gospel in light of impacting the family structure.

Single motherhood takes on different forms in our society. Single motherhood predominately exist among those who are 18 years and younger and there is a growing class of women who are choosing to have children while remaining single.  In either case, these women have made choices that now impact another individual made in the image and likeness of God.  These women are now to be nursing mothers who have received a child from the Lord.   While parenting is difficult, single parenting is obviously more difficult, but nonetheless hopeful in light of a home built on the Gospel.  

Paul provides some insight and I believe hope, to women who are mothers regardless of their situation. Paul sees his relationship to the Thessalonians as a "nursing mother."  He, including other believers have taken care of the Thessalonians in two ways; they have shared the Gospel and shared of themselves.  Mothers, there is great instruction for you in this passage of Scripture. With all gentleness, share the Gospel with your children. In their formative years, take the opportunity to explain in simple terms the depth and love of God which was revealed in Jesus Christ.  There are many competing messages for children. Television programming such as Nick Jr., Playhouse Disney, books such as Twilight and Harry Potter are all competing for the hearts and minds of children.  Mothers, as many of you have nursed your children from your breast with life giving milk, nurse your children with the life giving message of the Gospel. 

Not only should you look for times in your day to share the Gospel with your children, look for opportunities to share more of yourself in the life of your children.  The Gospel spoken is made even more brilliant when the Gospel is lived. Mothers have a unique makeup to demonstrate the gentleness, meekness, humility and compassion of God our Savior. Share with your children, at appropriate ages, stories of how God has radically transformed your life. Women if you have daughters include them on how you care for your home and pour into the lives of other women. The result of Paul loving the Thessalonians as a nursing mother was an increased joy in his children and that joy can be yours as well. 

A family is greatly benefited when there is a man in the home. From the very beginning, God started the human race with a man and also redeemed humanity with the God-Man Jesus Christ. The presence of a man who loves Christ and the family given to him is a reward to both wife and children.  Paul relates to the Thessalonians not only as nursing mother but also as a father with his children. 

Men are built to lead, to serve, protect and provide for those given in their charge and there is no charge more important than the family given to him. Paul provides for us men with three distinct actions that when centered on the Gospel will bring about transformation in our homes. 

Fathers and husbands should be found exhorting the families they lead and serve through the proclamation of the Gospel. Fathers can be found urging their sons to excel in finance, achieve high academic standards or be the next great Razorback. In their proper context, these urgings can be good but they are not lasting.  Christian fathers, it is more profitable that you exhort your sons and daughters to receive Christ.  How pleasing will it be that your sons/daughters, grand-children and great-grand-children are living faithful in the Gospel and that life is impacting their financial life, scholastics or sports endeavors?

Encouragement is another aspect that Paul highlights in his relationship with the Thessalonians. Our children and wives are looking to us to persuade them to live lives that are beneficial to them and others. I have asked myself, "How am I encouraging my family to live out the Gospel of Christ in their schools, activities and among each other?" Men promote in your family a Christ centered life that upholds a love for one another and a love for those who are outside the family of faith. Advance among your children a worldview that upholds the God given distinctions in men and women, the beauty of sex within marriage and the joy of loving someone unconditionally. 

Finally, men charge your families.  Men we must speak with confidence and boldness, humility and love as we communicate the truths of the Gospel to our families. Our families, our women, our children look to us to be unwavering and committed to what we do and what we say. What proceeds from our mouths and characterizes our lives will be a great testament to our families when both are resting on the Gospel.  

 The Gospel impacts our families in very significant ways. Mothers are to be nursing their children in all gentleness with the living Gospel. Fathers, we are to exhort, encourage and charge our children in both word and deed. The result is that we would have children who God has called into his own kingdom and glory and out of that they walk in a manner worthy of God. God calling our children into his own kingdom is the result of Christ redemptive work on the cross of Calvary.  It was on that cross Jesus Christ purchased redemption for his people and the result is men, women, children and families who walk in a manner worthy of God. 

(Phillip Fletcher can be reached at thecityofhope@gmail.com)