We know what families are – the traditional family was father, mother, children.
The extended family was father, mother, children, grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins, and in the South, you also would add the “kissin’ cousins”. (Having my roots in the North, I don’t exactly know what they are, but you hear it anyway!)
Then there are the folks who play a role in the family but who are not blood-line related. I’m thinking of the Grandma and Grandpa my children had when they were very young children. My parents were hundreds of miles away and this wonderful couple had no children, but they bridged the generation gap and “adopted” my children as if they were their own grandchildren.
When we would visit, the children ran to the kitchen and found the drawer where “Grandma” kept “kid friendly” candy at just the right eye level for them to see and grab.
When we moved from one city to another, the children came under the care of another “Grandpa and Grandma” who lived just a few doors away from us.
In fact, Grandpa Jim taught my daughter not to be afraid of dogs during the time they took care of her when I was a single parent and was out of town for work on an extended case.
On a whole other note but no less significant to dear friends of ours, we are now taking care of a canine daughter of an elderly couple who have suffered pneumonia and the flu and are now in rehab to regain their strength. Not being able to have their pup with them was a terrible concern for them, a concern which was alleviated by bringing her into our home. This picture of her resting comfortably with our girls brought comfort to this “Mom and Dad”.
The marvelous wonder of each of these relationships is that they were from our church “family.” Each of the couples who cared for the children and who are the loving “parents” of our canine guest are believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, and they worshipped with us every Sunday, and often during the week as well.
Scripture teaches us that believers in Jesus Christ are children of God.
“The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”
When we are received by the Holy Spirit and indwelt by Him through belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, we are adopted into God’s family. We become children of God and each believer becomes our brother or our sister in the Lord.
“This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.”
The Christians of the first century were Jewish, just as Jesus and each of the Apostles were Jewish. Saul of Tarsus was a Jewish leader who persecuted the Christians. He was going to Damascus to continue that persecution when he encountered the risen Lord Jesus Christ. In Acts 9:15 we read that Saul, later to become Paul, was commissioned to minister to the Gentiles. In preparation for Saul/Paul’s ministry, the Lord asked a disciple named Ananias to go and care for him. He was understandably resistant given the fact that he knew Saul was coming to Damascus to round-up and persecute the Christians.
“But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel.”
Paul later wrote to the Galatians and said:
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
So, for the believer, his/her family is far broader than the bloodline would seem to indicate. The Christian’s spiritual genealogy includes all the men and women and boys and girls who have been adopted into God’s family. The love of Christ is shed abroad to each of the family members and, when one needs help, the body rushes in to care for the wounded.
When Paul wrote to the Thessalonians, he included a commendation for their works of brotherly love that extended to other bodies of believers throughout the area.
“Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more,”
1 Thessalonians 4:9-10
So, who is your family? Certainly, your family is, at least, those who live under your roof, and the Christian has a clear obligation to care for and provide for his/her family.
“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
1 Timothy 5:8
But it is broader than that – for the Christian, the family is all those who worship the Lord Jesus Christ. It is particularly those that worship with you, and we are charged to take care of the family of God.
So, who is your family? Are there needs that have gone unmet? Can you meet those needs? Can you lend assistance to someone who is in your church family? Can you bring encouragement to someone who is being attacked because of their faith? The list of needs and opportunities is endless.
So, who is in your family and what needs might they have that you could alleviate?
Father, I pray that we would take the words of your Word and put them into effect in our hearts and in our actions. I pray that we would not read your Word without being affected by it, without being transformed by it, without having it take root in our words and actions. Let us be Your hands and feet to those who are in need, through the power of Your Spirit, I pray.