One of the blessings of life in Christ is that we have a higher authority to appeal to and a foundation to build on, in personal and family life.

Many of us can recall our younger days when various situations arose that needed to be cleared. Our father (or mother) would settle the matter with the question, “What would Jesus say?” Of course, he was the one we followed and our respect for him was such that the particular matter was settled.

Recall the “certain centurion” whose servant was “sick and ready to die”. He did not require the Master to come personally to his house, for he was not worthy that such a personage as the Lord Jesus should enter under his roof. He believed that Jesus could just “say in a word” and his servant would be healed.

Why was this so? Because he said that “I also am a man set under authority”. The centurion was under Caesar’s authority with derived power to direct his servants. He recognised that Jesus was in a similar position, it being the God of Israel who was Jesus’ authority; we can’t go higher than that. What did Jesus say? He said to the people who followed him, “I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel.”

So, in family life we can always appeal to Christ’s position as head over our home for the final say. Father, then mother, then children are all subject to him, and thankfully so. Parents follow the Lord Jesus as if he were personally present – and welcome – in the home. The children will soon realise this and warm to it, though they must make their own decision for Christ one day.

Many of our homes have a wall plaque that says:

“Christ is the head of this house,

The unseen guest at every meal,

The silent listener to every conversation.”

And we are glad that he is.

Some families will set aside an extra chair with the caption ‘Jesus’ seat’ to remind everyone of his presence, and that he is welcome to return, whenever he wishes, to that home.

What would Jesus say to that, to know that he is welcome any time?

An important lesson for us as parents is of course that we need to be genuine in our service to him. The children will soon decipher if we are not. In some small way parents are living copies of the Master, though imperfectly (which we need to admit to the children on occasion).

Daily Bible readings and prayers need to be part of our training, and theirs. We all work together for our Lord. As we are under his au­thority, we can’t therefore be authoritarian. You’ll remember the Parable of the Pounds, when the unsatisfactory servant considered his Master to be “austere” (“rough”, “harsh” Youngs). Jesus was certainly not that, nor is he now, nor will he be when we meet him.

We don’t follow him out of fear (the churches have tried that with ‘hell fire’ but are now losing their congregations). The Apostle Paul put it this way: “For the love of Christ constraineth us … that they who live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again” (2 Cor 5:14,15).

Brother Islip Collyer in Conviction and Conduct (p171, 1985 ed) describes the picture of headship this way:

“Those who stand with their sins forgiven, and privileged to call God their Father, experience none of that craven fear which is cast out by love. Their fear is a dread of grieving the Father, of causing a breach, of being separated from their Maker … They are like children in the presence of a good father, with a wholesome fear inspired by love, taking their troubles to him, and loving to have him near; equally ready to work or play in his sight; and drawing closer in sympathy with him, either in their labour or their sport.” So, what would Jesus say to all this?

If we can absorb the spirit of Christ into personal and family life, we will not need to be afraid of what the great Judge will say when he returns. He will be looking for a family likeness to him in each one. It can’t be any other way.

May it be that he will find us faithful too, as that centurion was when Jesus walked the earth. Perhaps we will one day meet this Gentile centurion, who in his day had such great faith in Jesus and the authority that God gave to him.