Perhaps one of the most extensive metaphors for the church is “the family of God” – if this can even be considered a metaphor. According to the Scripture, the church is the family of God because believers have been adopted by God into his family. Scripture calls us brothers and sisters, with God as our father.
But what does this mean for the church? Is it important that we understand and live out our familial relationships with one another? How do we do this within the context of the church?
Robert Girard struggles with some of these questions in his book Brethren, Hang Together (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979). Consider the following passages:
The gatherings of the church, as well as what happens with its members the other 166 hours in the week, are all meant to be part of a dynamic family life. This is a life together in which the spiritual family comes to grips with the real needs and problems its members are facing in the real world in which they live every day. In a healthy family, life together involves rejoicing together over the good things that happen and hurting together over the hurts. A healthy family is a context in which you can share the real things that are happening to you, even if what you share reveals some personal inadequacy or weakness. (pg 23)
The family exists to meet the real, basic needs of its membersâ€”spiritual, emotional, social, physical, and material. And some of the most important of these needs are not met by formal, preplanned, well-programmed activities, but in the context of spontaneous interactions with each other in the situations of life as they arise. It is in the context of day-to-day spontaneous interaction that family members learn how to interact meaningfully in society, learn to distinguish right from wrong, are exposed to living models after whom they pattern their lives, discover their roles in the family and in society, and learn to function in the culture and life style of which the family is a part. (pg 24)
Do you live as family with the church? What is the most difficult part of being family with the church?