How important is our belief in Jesus on family and household?
There is a fascinating story in Acts where Paul and Silas are beaten and imprisoned for delivering a slave girl from an evil spirit. This deprived the owners of the slave girl from earning money from her fortune telling. As a result they dragged Paul and Silas into the marketplace and incited the people and magistrates to order them to be flogged and imprisoned.
Placed in an inner cell with their feet fastened in stocks, Paul and Silas started praying and singing hymns at midnight. Suddenly there was a violent earthquake, the prison doors flew open and their chains came loose. The jailer, thinking everyone had escaped, drew his sword and was about to kill himself. Paul shouted, “Do not harm yourself! We are all here!”
The jailer fell trembling before Paul and Silas and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved – you and your household.” (Acts 16:30-31) They then spoke the word of the Lord to the jailer and all the others in his house and they were baptized.
Because of the practice of holding jailers responsible with their life if prisoners escaped, the jailer may have been thinking about how he could save his life. Paul was intent on saving not only his life but also his soul and giving him eternal life, and the rest of his household as well.
We may not fully appreciate the impact that our belief in the Lord Jesus has on the rest of our family and members of our household. I thank God for the Christian heritage that I received from my mother and father, my grandparents and those who went before them. I believe that there is a certain grace that flows from such a heritage that nurtures the gift of faith God desires for each of us.
While the heirs of such a heritage are free to reject the gift of faith, a heritage of faith enriches the soil into which the seed of faith is planted. The greater the example of a life lived by faith on the part of the parents, the more fertile the soil in the children to receive the seeds of faith, and for those seeds to grow and mature.
How often have we seen a rebellious son or daughter come back to the faith through a parent’s example and prayers of intercession? St. Augustine is one of the more notable examples who returned to God through the intercession of his mother, Monica, after having lived a rather promiscuous life for a number of his early adult years.
St. Paul tells us that an unbelieving spouse is sanctified by a believing spouse. (1 Cor. 7:14) Our belief in Jesus and how we live out that belief is not just for our individual benefit, but part of God’s plan to spread the faith to others, particularly our own family and household.
“So then they said to him, ‘What can we do to accomplish the works of God?’ Jesus answered, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.’” (John 6:28-29)