the weblog of Alan Knox

The Church: The Character of God’s Family

Posted by on Jun 16, 2010 in definition, discipleship, fellowship, hospitality, love, service | 3 comments

The Church: The Character of God’s Family

This week, I’m publishing a few posts on “The Church” which explain the basis of my ecclesiology. In the first post, I said that our understanding of the church must begin with God. (see “The Church: It All Begins with God“) In the second post, I continue from that first point by concluding that our relationship with God and with one another is dependent upon God’s re-creative work, not any work of our own. (see “The Church: God’s Children and God’s Family“)

The way we act is defined by who we are. We are God’s children and God’s family, and thus we act as if God is our father. In the Gospels, we see Jesus giving us example after example of what it means to live as God’s children. Since we have been re-created, we have the opportunity and the ability to live as God’s children.

God loves. As his children, then, we also love. We go because God goes and sends. We care because God cares. We give because God gives. We serve because God serves.

When we love, serve, teach, care, etc., we do so because we are God’s children and we have been re-created to imitate our father. We do not become God’s children because we do these things, but we do these things because we are God’s children.

Similarly, we do not do these things (and other things) because we are the church. We are God’s children, and we do these things in demonstration of his character. The character of the family should be a demonstration of the character of the father.

Again, while this may seem obvious, we sometimes delegate this to a side story. If someone goes to another part of the world, they do not go because they are part of the church and the church sent them. They go because God’s cares about the people of that part of the world, and because God has sent them. If someone chooses to take care of a homeless person, they do not do so because the church has a homeless outreach, but because God cares for this person and their concern is a direct reflection of the father’s love.

Finally, this brings us to gathering together. As a family, we gather together. This does not make us family. Instead, gathering together is a demonstration that we are family. We love one another and desire to spend time with one another. That will be the topic for my next post in this series.


3 Comments

Comments are closed. If you would like to discuss this post, send an email to alan [at] alanknox [dot] net.

  1. 6-16-2010

    Good post. Question: Do we discipline because God disciplines? Do we kill liars where they stand? Do we walk on water because Jesus walks on water?

    Not trying to be silly (though a little tongue-in-cheek). I am always struggling with how to apply the character of God to my life and the church when there are obvious limitations?

    p.s. — love the new blog design (first time i’ve been on to comment and not just read it on google reader)

  2. 6-16-2010

    I like the case you are building that we are only demonstrating what God has brought about, not creating it. For me, the following statement has intense implications for the way we think of the local church:

    “Finally, this brings us to gathering together. As a family, we gather together. This does not make us family. Instead, gathering together is a demonstration that we are family. We love one another and desire to spend time with one another. That will be the topic for my next post in this series.

    I’m looking forward to more…

  3. 6-16-2010

    Mark,

    Actually, those are good questions. For the most part, I don’t think your questions deal specifically with the character of God, but the actions of God which are a result of his character. In the same way, our actions are a result of our character (which should be a reflection of God’s character), but our actions are probably going to be different (more limited) than God’s actions – since he’s divine and all. :)

    Art,

    Exactly. I think we tend to start at gathering together and work backwards from there. Things look different for me when gathering together is not the starting point of my understanding of the church. I hope you’re not disappointed with the final post in this series.

    -Alan