1 John 3:1a “See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God . . .”
Family – this word conjures up different things for different people. But no matter your experiences in this dysfunctional world, there is a loving Father who longs to welcome you into His family. His children are not perfect, but He has a goal to fashion each one into the spitting image of Himself. This is love! This is the family of God!
The Church Body – The Family of God
The family of God is often called the church body. Those who believe in Jesus join together for the common purpose of serving and worshipping God. In a letter to a group of believers, John urged those in the family to love their brothers and sisters because love is from God. If God loves us then we must also love one another.
As in most families, the process of growing and becoming more like our Father produces struggles while each family member works through his or her own personal weaknesses. These struggles sometimes make family life a little difficult. But if we keep our eyes on our Father, persevering to emulate His love, we can stand together through any trials this sinful world throws at us.
What Constitutes a Healthy Family Life?
What constitutes a healthy family life? Certain words come to my mind: love, importance, safety, value, applause, encouragement, support, freedom of expression. Every family member must have these basic needs met in order to truly experience a sense of belonging. Our heavenly Father offers each of these and more to every one of His children.
In our homes family members spend time together. They feel comfortable with hair undone and wearing a pair of comfortable, faded, ripped jeans. They eat together and share experiences – good and bad. They sometimes disagree, but will defend to the death when others belittle or disregard their kin. They celebrate personal achievements and small victories together. They shriek and jump wildly around the house in response to even the smallest successes, creating a sense of appreciation and value. They cry buckets of tears as they grieve together. They build each other up when the world disregards or belittles.
Family members boldly risk germs to be together. They provide care and comfort during sickness when others are too busy. They hold a hand in silence and listen attentively in the wee hours of the morning to heartbreaks no one else even sees. They bear with inconveniences and seek to discover and promote the other’s giftedness. They sacrifice time, money, and personal comfort for the greater good. Above all they love each other deeply and are willing to patiently slog through the messiness of personalities, failures, disagreements, joys, smiles, and tears because every member is important. They each know and feel secure in the fact that they belong and are better together.
Glory and Delight in the Family of God
If God has called us to be His children, then how can we create an environment in the church where all family members experience this same type of love and belonging? It can only be done as we value our brothers and sisters in the same way God values us. We must live it out the way John encourages: “Let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” This manner of family life brings glory to the Father and great delight to all.
Regardless of a person’s experience in a biological or adopted family on earth, a blessed truth remains: there is a Father in heaven whose love has no limits, and Who has made a way for us to be His children through Jesus. He knows us fully, grows us intentionally, provides life abundantly, and He calls us to emulate His love for each other unconditionally.
Let’s tenaciously bear with one another to make the church, the body of Christ, a home where all are welcome and belong. This is love! This is the family of God!