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When the church becomes family, everything changes

Posted by on Apr 7, 2011 in community, fellowship | 12 comments

When the church becomes family, everything changes

There are many ways that Christians interact with one another. They relate as acquaintances. Sometimes, they interact as employees and employers. They look at one another a volunteers or as people who share membership in an organization.

But, I think something changes (drastically) when we become family. I’m not talking about tacking the titles “brother” or “sister” onto someone’s name. I’m talking about truly being family, actually being and living as brothers and sisters of one another, with God as our father.

The way that we talk to each other changes. The way that we think about and care for one another changes. What we expect of each other (and ourselves) changes.

When we become family, everything about our life together will change. Of course, when we become family, we will actually have life together.

The problem is, apart from being and living as family, the scriptural instructions and descriptions concerning our life together (i.e., “love one another,” “serve one another,” “forgive one another,” “teach one another”) are always misconstrued. These instructions and descriptions only make sense within familial relationships.

Of course, in Christ, we are family. The question now is, will we recognize and live out our familial relationships with one another?


12 Comments

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  1. 4-7-2011

    I have a book somewhere written for foreign students who come to the US. It describes our culture from an outsider’s view. One of their observations that struck me, was how they describe our “friendships.”

    Americans, they claim, make easy friends, but only in narrow compartments. We might have a friend in a class, or a friend we play tennis with, or a friend across the hall. But we don’t connect these places and people. The tennis friend, is only a tennis friend, not welcome in other parts of our lives, etc.

    For some foreign cultures, this is very confusing. To them, a friend is connected to everything they do, and welcome in all of their times and spaces. But, they don’t easily make friends. It is hard to gain acceptance in the first place.

    The frequent reference to the church as family overcomes both of these weaknesses. As family, we have instant acceptance. As family, we gain complete integration into another’s life.

    Maybe this is partly why the bible uses the family metaphor for the church more than any other.

  2. 4-7-2011

    Art,

    You said, “The frequent reference to the church as family overcomes both of these weaknesses.” Yes, recognizing one another as and living as family overcomes many obstacles.

    -Alan

  3. 4-7-2011

    Alan,

    This is a truth I am starting to see growing in my life. I have some good friends in Wichita whom I have known since high school. He was the music leader at the church I attended, and played drums at. The Lord used him to begin pulling me out of the organized church, and since that time he and his wife have been great mentors/elders/disciplers for my wife and I. It has been an interesting transition though, in the last year, as I have matured in my faith and the relationship has changed from one of almost exclusive receiving on my part, to one of mutual edification, where I now have Christ within me to share with him and others. As this process has taken place, especially in the last few months, the sense of affection has grown, and I truly see the nature of our relationships changing even more. Interestingly enough, as an American male, it is uncomfortable in my flesh, to a certain extent, to walk in this, as there is such an in-grained homophobic mindset that developing this kind of intimacy with other men seems unnatural. What a sad indictment against our society, especially as the church, that this would be an issue. I am sure there are many in the body that don’t have this issue, but I am also sure I am not alone. In the end, the joy of that relationship far outweighs any discomfort, and I look forward to developing many more such relationships.

    I remember a post on a blog I have read that described the top charges against Christians who were executed in Rome. One of them was adultery, as to an unsaved world the intimacy shared among Christians was misunderstood to be something it was not.

    Mark

  4. 4-7-2011

    Mark,

    That’s a very encouraging report! Thank you!

    -Alan

  5. 8-2-2011

    Hey Brother,

    You say your desseration topic is the purpose of the NT gatherings. Would love to rad it.

    Blessings,

    Clark

  6. 8-3-2011

    Clark,

    I’m still writing my dissertation.

    -Alan

  7. 7-11-2012

    In Europe (The Netherlands to be specific) we meet the same problem. You go to church to worship and hear preachings and go back home in stead of meeting an interacting with your family. We read the book Living from the heart Jesus gave you, The Life Model (J. Friesen/J. Wilder e.o). Hope to implement this in our church and other churches starting in Holland. Suggestions how to create family out of a bunch of individual believers are very welcome!Good luck on writing your dissertation.

  8. 7-11-2012

    Helga,

    Thanks for the comment. I’d love to talk more with you about the church in Holland and share some thoughts about fostering an atmosphere that helps people live as family in Christ. Send me an email at aknox [at] sebts [dot] edu.

    -Alan

  9. 4-10-2013

    Most Christians are raised in the religious culture of Christianity. In order to re-learn God’s culture–His kingdom’s ways, not manmade religion–I’ve seen that relying on spiritual instincts is my only hope.

    We’re conditioned to learn acceptable culture by physical observation, but I guess we’re supposed to take seriously all of Paul the apostle’s reminders of who we really are in Christ. Christ’s perfect love in us is enables us to view His (crazy) people as family. Our perspective can’t be forced to change by trying, but only by letting Him live through us. Like the way you put it here, we “become family.”

  10. 4-11-2013

    Esther,

    Relying on spiritual instincts is important. However, even for those of us who have been following Jesus for a long time, our spiritual instincts can be misled. I’ve found that combining our spiritual instincts with the example and teaching of those around us who are following Jesus to be extremely beneficial. These people are the family that I’m talking about here.

    -Alan

  11. 4-11-2013

    Oh, yes, you’re totally right about that, Alan!
    By the way, others in my family (and I’m very blessed to be referring to some people who are both physical and spiritual family)have been discussing, enjoying, and being edified by your blog. So glad you have the aptitude to post as often as you do.

  12. 4-15-2013

    Esther,

    I tend to publish shorter posts, so that makes it easier. Plus, I prefer to ask questions instead of trying to answer all the questions. So, that makes it easier to post also. :)

    -Alan