Families come in many sizes and shapes. No matter what type of family we are part of, we are also part of a second, spiritual family. We have the family we were born into or the family we live with, but those of us who believe in Jesus are also part of God’s family.
When we place our faith in Christ, God becomes our Father, Christ becomes our brother, we become his children, other believers become our brothers and sisters, and the church becomes our spiritual family. “Then his mother and his brothers came; and standing outside, they sent to him and called him. A crowd was sitting around him; and they said to him, ‘Your mother and your brothers and sisters are outside, asking for you.’ And he replied, ‘Who are my mother and my brothers?’ And looking at those who sat around him, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does the will of God is my brother and sister and mother.’” (Mark 3:31-35, NRSV).
The family of God includes biblical figures such as Abraham, Joseph, David, Mary, and Paul. It includes the prophets, the Israelites, the disciples, the crowds who came to hear Jesus speak and be healed. It includes saints such as Perpetua, Patrick, and Nicholas (yes, St. Nicholas). It includes famous theologians like Martin Luther and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. It includes those whom we have loved and have passed away. It includes those who are yet to be born. It includes all the believers who have come before us, and all who will come after. But most importantly, includes you – you who confess Jesus Christ is Lord, who died for your salvation and will come again to judge the living and the dead.
Being part of God's family means we have some great rewards. We are new creations. Our sins have been forgiven. We rejoice in the knowledge that we are known and loved by God. We trust that we will live in eternity with God, Our Father, and Christ, Our Brother. We find purpose and meaning in life. We know that we are not alone. Not only does Christ walk with us, we are surrounded by our spiritual brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers. We have people with which to share life’s highs and lows.
When we belong to the Family of God, the diversity of God’s creation works together to build up the church and its members. As we pray, worship, study and fellowship together, we fulfill God’s plan for our lives. In sharing our time, talents and treasures with each other in His name, we find peace and understanding. As we comfort one another in times of trouble, we share God’s unconditional and healing love. As we belong to this holy family, we receive energy from the Holy Spirit to move forward on our journey of faith.
Being part of God’s family also brings certain responsibilities: we are called to gather in God’s house (the church) for worship, prayer and praise. We gather in fellowship to strengthen our bonds with one another. We go out into the world to love and serve our neighbor. We study God’s word. We seek and do God’s will. We put God first and repent our unfaithfulness.
The Family of God is the church, past, present and future. And you are an important part of that great and loving family.
In his letter to the Ephesians, the Apostle Paul writes: “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling-place for God.” (Ephesians 2:19-22, NRSV)
Dear Father, we are thankful that we can become your children through faith in Jesus Christ. We are thankful that it doesn't matter whether we are male or female. Young or old. Married or single. Divorced or widowed. We are thankful that in Christ we all become one, the Family of God. In our Brother Jesus' name we pray. Amen.
Your sister in Christ,
This article was originally included as part of the Family of God Event I put together for my faith community in July 2013. In light of the sorrow I feel over the divisions in Christ's Holy Church, I wanted to share it with you - the Family of the One True God.