All my brothers, sisters, and me. We are Family. Just like the 1979 hit by Sister Sledge, we to are “Family”.
Though the old song is catchy, what does it mean in terms of us and how we relate too our brothers and sisters not only in our own church, but church wide? A recent article by John N. Day titled “Church is family”, from Modern Reformation gave a very interesting perspective on family and Church.
The point of the article describes what post-modern church goers need, and it is a true sense of family. I would agree with this statement along with one that goes like this. What every believer needs is a true sense of family. Without family, we will make many bad decisions not only in life, but also in the church. We may make decisions based on business models, with worldly concerns, especially if we don’t take into account our family, our church family. I may take Joe’s side over Earl’s because; well because Earl is more aligned with the Associate Pastor than I am. You can input any reason or name above, because the point is, we don’t see fellow believers as true bothers and sisters, and sad but true, we often don’t even look at our own congregates as our brothers and sisters. This sets up bad decision making, and bad fellowship.
A good piece of text that John Day laments on is Matthew 12:46-50. While he was still talking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers stood outside, seeking to speak with Him. Then one said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside, seeking to speak with You.” But He answered and said to the one who told him “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And he stretched out his hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.”
In a quick review of the scripture above one could conclude that Jesus is taking away from family, by emphasizing his relationship with the disciples. This is not the case. We see in scripture that we are pointed to respect and honor our parents; look no further than the 10 commandments. Paul in 1 Timothy 5:8 says “But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” It is apparent from Paul’s writings that family is super important, and we know that without family structure we become awfully close to being the animals that atheists want us to be. It is important to understand the point Jesus is making in scripture for us to understand just how important our Brothers and Sister in the church are. We share a bond with him, if we are doing the will of Our father in heaven; we are brothers and sisters to him and to each other. He is not taking away from family values or family structure, but he is showing us that our brothers and sisters at church share a common, highly valued similarity. How valued? As valuable as your mother, as your sister, and as your brother are to you, so should those in the church be. For us to just be doing His will we are bonded, like family. Do we believe that?
Can you imagine the environment in Church if all of us thought of each other as truly brothers and sisters in Christ? I know, I know, we say this all the time, we say my brother and sister at church….yeah I know, but you the reader of this blog (all 3 of you) and I know that we don’t really see each other as brothers and sisters that we love unconditionally, such as family members. Towards the end of John Day’s article he so eloquently puts it this way. “Too often instead you find things cold and uncaring, plastic-faced or two-faced; and too quickly to quarrel and divide. Oh, that our churches again would recapture this affection-not in pretence, but in truth!” How can I add to that statement from Day? Our members need to find safety at church, no matter how chaotic the environment outside of the Church is; they need family. They need members to love them in spite of the sin that still eats at all us (they are not alone). We all fall, it’s just the manner or degree to which we fall, but all of us despite our fragility and our propensity to sin, we need a mother, father, brother or sister, to love us, and to love us unconditionally like only family members can. I’ve seen people sin, and be repentant to that sin, but discarded like garbage, because they lost that squeaky clean image, and therefore didn’t fit the cover girl façade of the church anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying church without discipline, I’m just saying church with the love of my brothers and sisters, and that their love should be unconditional.
Will you commit to love your brothers and sisters in church? The second greatest commandment is to love your brother as yourself. However, in the church we argue, quarrel, fight amongst ourselves, backstab, and many other heinous sins without so much as blinking an eye. Oh I know most of us wouldn’t do that. (Laugh, Laugh, like some inside joke.) Would we? Could we? Are we?