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Read: Ps 133:12; Jn 17:20-21; Eph 5:21; I Pet 3:8-9

Keys to Family Unity:
In the words of the Psalmist, “How pleasant it is for God’s people to live together in harmony. So what are those elements in relationships which promote the harmony of which Scripture speaks?

Key Texts:

  • Psalms 133:12 – How wonderful it is, how pleasant, for God’s people to live together in harmony.
  • EGW – Christ in the heart of the wife will be in harmony with Christ in the heart of the husband.
  • John 17:20, 21 – I pray not only for them, but also for those who believe in me because of their message. I pray that they may all be one. Father! May they be in us, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they be one, so that the world will believe that you sent me.
  • EGW – The Adventist Home, p.179, “The closer we come to Christ, the nearer we shall be to one another.”
  • Ephesians 5:21 – Submit yourselves to one another because of your reverence for Christ.
  • EGW – Early Writings, p.119, “If pride and selfishness were laid aside, five minutes would remove most difficulties.”
  • 1 Peter 3:8,9 – To conclude: you must all have the same attitude and the same feelings; love one another as brothers, and be kind and humble with one another. Do not pay back evil with evil or cursing with cursing: instead, pay back with a blessing, because a blessing is what God promised to give you when he called you.
  • William R. Miller and Kathleen A. Jackson, Practical Psychology for Pastors, 2nd edition, pp. 368,369 – What is a Good Relationship?…we would point to a few emotional and attitudinal prerequisites for a sound relationship.
    • A sound relationship is one that occurs between autonomous individuals. We mean that each individual is capable of existing independently and has an identity of his or her own. It is important to establish autonomous adulthood before considering marriage.
    • A sound relationship is one that is chosen. Autonomous individuals can choose to depend on others for significant needs, although they do not have to do so. A relationship is entered and continued out of choice.
    • A sound relationship is one in which each individual is committed to the growth and happiness of the other. Each partner in a loving relationship supports the self-esteem and sustains the positive experiences of the other. Love cannot be taken, only given. Receiving love enables the further giving of love.
    • A sound relationship is one in which each partner is open to change and in which each partner has positive skills for requesting and negotiating change from the other. People who live together need to be able to change. If positive means for eliciting this change are not available, it is likely that negative means will be employed.
    • A sound relationship is one in which each partner shares with the other his or her inner world. This is intimacy. In a context of mutual trust and respect, the partners communicate to each other their ongoing, present reality–perceptions, reactions, emotions, memories, hopes, plans, experiences, and thoughts. Some mistake intimacy for the sharing of secrets about one’s past. History is a part if intimacy, but a more vital (and more difficult) self-revelation is one’s immediate reality. This is riskier than sharing the past because it immediately involves and affects the partner, who in turn reacts.
    • A sound relationship includes commitment. Every relationship is marked by its ups and downs. A sound relationship is one that is characterized by endurance and a commitment to working through the hard times that invariably come as part of a shared life.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. What do we understand the one flesh (henosis) unity in a relationship to be? How is that unity achieved? What role do we see God taking in promoting the oneness for which Jesus prayed?
  2. What does it mean for us to agape love one another? What does it mean for us to filially love one another? What does it mean for us to erotically love one another?
  3. The functionality of a family system is its ability to adjust to change. A dysfunctional family is one which is unable to adjust or accommodate to changes in the system. What are some of the changes that some families weather admirably while others get inflexibly stuck?
  4. The interactions between conflicted couples are about 90% negative and 10% positive. The goal of marriage therapy is to reverse those percentages. What are ways that couples might increase the number of positive exchanges in their daily interactions?
  5. What are the things that you experience with your spouse that helps you to feel loved, appreciated, valued, and treasured?
  6. When is there a need for reconciliation between or among family members, and how does one make that happen? Are there any situations that defy reconciliation?
  7. One of Ellen White’s favorite words for families is forbearance. What does it mean for us to be forbearing?
  8. What do we as parents do to restore harmony when family unity is broken by a spirit of rebellion? Are there limits to the amount of diversity that we should tolerate? Is tough love ever appropriate and if so, when?

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