The Reality of Being in the Family of God

The family of God.

Brothers and sisters in Christ.

To some, those are inviting and amazing phrases. To those of us who have experienced less than wholesome family life or real siblings, those phrases can be a mixed bag.

But then again, so is the church. God extends His grace through Christ to anyone, even me!

Which is why I’ve been chuckling all week about a line in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. 2 Corinthians 9:3 ESV says this, “But I am sending the brothers so that our boasting about you may not prove empty in this matter, so that you may be ready, as I said you would be.”

I am sending the brothers.

What thoughts or emotions did that stir up in the believers at Corinth? They’ve been going back and forth with Paul over a corrective situation. There’s been tension but now, things are turning around. Repentance has occurred. Forgiveness extended. The ship is being righted and all is well.

But now, Paul is sending the brothers.

Think about some famous siblings. John and James, Sons of Thunder. Peter and Andrew, two of Jesus’ first followers. If these brothers arrived, it would be a rich time of fellowship.

But, then consider Jacob’s twelve sons – Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Dan, Naphtali, Gad, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph and Benjamin plus their sister Dinah. Sending brothers in that family didn’t work out well for either Joseph or Dinah.

Sending the Kennedy brothers— John, Bobby, Ted— might suggest help was arriving and a little fun but sending the Corleone brothers — Sonny, Fredo, Michael, and Tom would not suggest a good time.

Sending the sisters from Little Women— Meg, Joe, Beth, and Amy would suggest lovely support and maybe some tea. While sending Cinderella’s stepsisters would imply a necessary makeover but served with some serious backstabbing.

Sending Jake and Elwood, the Blues brothers, would mean trouble but trouble accompanied by a rockin’ soundtrack!

I’m joking a bit but this phrase from Paul made me consider what God wants for us as family.

We are family— you and me. Family with all who know Jesus. We have family expectations—traits and behaviors that set us apart from other families. God’s Word is full of statements about how brothers and sisters in Christ should think of and act toward one another. Here are some to consider.

Eight truths about this brotherhood/sisterhood in Jesus.

  • We’re stuck with one another by the blood of Jesus. That’s right. You and I don’t get to decide who’s in or out. (Romans 12:3-5, 1 Corinthians 12:14-15). I got you, bro and you got me through eternity, so we should get on board with this family situation.
  • Our primary command is to love one another as Jesus loves us because that is how our family is known in the world, by our love. (John 13:34-35) And, we’re not allowed to fake it! (Romans 12:10) Plus, Paul defines it, so we know if we’re doing it. (1 Corinthians 13:4-7) The only way to love this way is to allow God to change us from the inside out.
  • We’re to honor one another as greater than ourselves. (Romans 12:10) We need to distribute this honor equally – not showing favoritism to those who are rich or to those most like us. (James 2:1-6, Galatians 2:11-21)
  • We’re to accept one another, not comparing ourselves to one another but celebrating differences. (1 Corinthians 12:18-25)
  • We’re to instruct and challenge one another. That’s a very sibling thing to do. Proverbs 27:17 says, “Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another.” Paul told the Roman Christians, “I myself am satisfied about you, my brothers, that you yourselves are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge and able to instruct one another.” He tells the Colossians, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom,” and the writer of Hebrews tells us “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.” We are supposed to be in one another’s business just like biological siblings. This is part of being in the family of God so we shouldn’t be surprised when it happens. We will get in one another’s faces. We can learn from one another, push one another to excellence, and correct one another in ways that people outside the family can’t. Sometimes we won’t do this part well but that’s why our sixth way of being family is
  • To Bear with one another and forgive one another. (Ephesians 4:1-3, Colossians 3:12-13) What’s implicit in these commands to forgive is the notion that we will sin against one another, hurt one another, have misunderstandings, disagreements, and conflict but we are to work through them as family, as siblings who are together through life.
  • We’re not to complain about each other. How hard is that, right? I hear that Amen! James (James 4:11, James 5:9) and Peter (1 Peter 4:8-10) make points of instructing on this and they would know!
  • Finally, just like an earthly family, we are called to do life together. To share meals, sorrows, joys, and triumphs. We’re to pray for one another, cheer one another on, witness one another’s lives, and watch out for each other. Paul says that “If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.” (1 Corinthians 12:25 ESV) This is how God’s family operates.

We are family. Because Jesus died on the cross, defeated death and sin, and rose again, we have been adopted as sons and daughters of the Most High God making you and I brothers and sisters. Like it or not.

And, like Jake and Elwood Blues, we’re on a mission from God.

Be grateful that we’re not alone. God, in His kindness and mercy provided us one another to travel with on that long road home to eternity. Be grateful today to God and to the brothers and sisters God has sent to you!

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    The Conversation

  1. Terry & Patricia Lampel says:

    Superb! Love studying the “one another” passages. Good job, Lori! We love you Sis!

  2. Deb Kreyssig says:

    Amen Lori! It’s so true, we need the family of faith more than ever these days. May we be there to lovingly encourage, edify, correct, strengthen and uphold one another. May we be united in the Spirit and the work of the Kingdom.
    It may be messy at times but church family is truly a blessing.

  3. Maureen says:

    Thank you for this. I am beyond thankful that you are my sister! And some of the sibling groups you mentioned made me chuckle!! I love how you think and how you convey thoughts in writing to us, your reading sibs! We are better for it!