I know not everyone can relate to my personal situation, but I have had the benefit of a wonderful and very rewarding family life. I have extremely fond memories of childhood spent in a caring household surrounded by loving parents and siblings. Of course we had our hiccups; every family does. But being raised in a Christian home has made all the difference in my view of God, of family, and of life.
On the other hand, there are many who read this and would give anything to have the fond memories of a loving family as I do. You may have grown up in a broken or abusive home, one from which you longed to escape as soon as you were old enough to do so. Others may be facing family turmoil as we speak. Your marriage didn’t turn out the way you’d hoped or your kids are in and out of trouble. For whatever reason, many people think of grief and heartache when they hear the word family.
I believe this is what makes membership in a church family so difficult sometimes. When people from all walks of life come to know God and are added to his church, we then have to learn what God calls us to as a family of believers. We are, “no longer strangers and aliens, but…are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). We are meant to be a family, a group of loved ones who look out for one another (Galatians 6:10), and God has left us plenty of instruction on how to carry that out.
As a family, Christians are to…
- Accept one another (Romans 15:7)
- Love one another unconditionally (John 13:34-35, 1 John 3:14-18, 1 John 4:7-12)
- Unite with one another (1 Corinthians 12:25)
- Serve one another (Galatians 5:13)
- Be kind to and forgive one another (Ephesians 4:32)
- Encourage one another (1 Thessalonians 5:11)
As you can see, membership in God’s family is a very active position. You’ll also notice that our role as family members has us always seeking to take care of the needs of others. Nowhere in this family is there room for selfishness or pride or jealousy. Do those things happen? Sure, for they are part of our human nature. That’s why we must strive to stay in God’s word, learning his definition of what a true family looks like so we can apply that wisdom not only to our spiritual family, but to our family at home as well.
The church is a family that has joined together the saved of countless generations and whose head and leader is Christ himself. Won’t it be grand to one day be reunited with all our brothers and sisters in Christ and to be called home by our Father to our place in Heaven to reside for eternity? I hope to see you there!