The Church as Family

peopleSunday, February 9, 2014

How do you think about the church? Some think of the church as an authority structure like the government. Some approach it like a theater where they go to be entertained. For some it’s a religious school. But when the New Testament was written believers related to one another as a family.

Jesus set the tone for this when he said, “ For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother” (Mark 3:35). Jesus anticipated the reality that those who believe might face rejection from the members of their own family (Matt 10:21).Thus, it was essential that his followers develop close supportive relationships.

The apostles continued this emphasis. On a practical level, the early church had no other choice but to meet in homes (Acts 2:46; 5:42; 12:12; 20:20). Yet Paul also told Timothy to keep this family attitude in mind in all his relationships. In 1 Timothy 5:1-2 he says, “Do not rebuke an older man but encourage him as you would a father, younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, in all purity.”

As people in our society isolate themselves more and more and families become more fractured, this way of thinking about church cuts against the grain.  I think many of us want to have relationships like this, but we’re not really sure how to get there.

It starts with how you think about our gatherings every Sunday morning. Come to serve. Come to care. Don’t just sit and wait for someone to reach out to you. Do all that you can to make people, young and old, feel welcomed—particularly those who are new. Take an interest in their lives. Pray for them during the week. If they’re going through some trials, call to check up on them and share a word of encouragement. Get together with them sometime outside of Sunday morning.

I’m grateful and blessed to see how well many of you in our church family already relate this way. I’m reminded of Paul’s words to the Thessalonians, “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, or 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 Thess 4:9-10).

– Bryan Craddock

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