Christians speak often of what we have been saved from and rightfully so. God has graciously rescued us from sin, Satan, and hell and we ought to revel in this truth. But it seems we do not speak as often about what we have been saved to, and this truth is equally powerful, in fact it may be more so. When we grasp what God has saved us to our daily lives will be radically changed. What I mean by “what we have been saved to” is the body of Christ, God’s people, the church. We have been united to Christ and in being united to Christ we are united to each other. God has adopted us and thus created a new family. There are many implications that flow from this truth. I would like to point out a few implications for how we are to live in our physical family in light of being united to a new family, the church.
Jesus sets an example for us. In Matthew 12:46-50 Jesus is speaking to a group of people when someone comes in to tell him that his mother and brothers are outside asking to speak with him. This is his reply,
But he replied to the man who told him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.
It is clear from Jesus’ words that, a Christian has a more important family than the one they were born into.
This may come as a jolt to some because we love our families, we spend time with them, we pray for them, we cherish little kids and loving parents. But this truth does not decrease the importance of our family rather it reveals the extraordinary importance of the new family, the church. If we love our families with the great love that we do, how much more ought we to love our heavenly family? If we are commanded to love our families in the scriptures, how much more are we commanded to love the church for which Christ shed his blood?
Am I too focused on the family?
It is one thing to agree that we can exalt our families over the church and it is another thing to know when we are doing it. I offer three suggestions:
First, once you become so enclosed in your family that your church cannot reach you when they are in need, you can be confident you are not living like Jesus. Jesus put his physical family on pause to be with his church family not the other way around. Yet often in the church today it seems that the church family is neglected for they physical.
Second, once you become so busy with family activity that you neglect worship gatherings, small group gatherings, prayer meetings, or service opportunities on a regular basis then you may be too focused on the family. Missing a gathering with the church family will happen every now and then, but if you miss so often that the church does not notice when you are gone then you might want to look at the way your family functions.
Thirdly, look at your prayer life. Surely we should storm the gates of heaven with prayers for our family. Our deep love for them compels us to plead with God for their good. But how much more should we do this for our church family? These are the brothers and sisters we will worship and live with for eternity! These are the ones with whom we have been united together in a bond thicker than blood.
What’s best for the family?
God created both the family and the church but the church serves a central role in glorifying God. Granted, the family is to glorify God as well but Christ came to die for the church, not everyone in your family tree. This is important when we think about how to structure our families. Our families were never made to be the center. Parents often speak of not making their children the center and yet often we are guilty of making the whole family center. Everything in our lives revolves around the family. I believe that what will be best for our families is to focus on Christ and his body, the church. I believe that marriages will be helped as they focus on loving the church. I believe that children will be helped as they watch their parents sacrifice to disciple others in the church and invite the body of Christ into their home. In the end, the best thing we can do for our families is focus on the church.
What’s best for the spread of the gospel?
God has called each saint to do the work of ministry, to build the body in unity, and the knowledge of the Son of God (Eph. 4:12). Individual Christians are to be about that task, and as we achieve that unity the world will look in at the beautiful new family called the church of God and praise him. My point is that what is best for the spread of the gospel is that Christians get to work at the ministry of building up the body of Christ. The world will know “we” are Christians by our love. The “we” in the previous sentence is not the physical family but the heavenly one. The world will look in at a loving family and boast of that family. The world will look in at a loving church and boast of God.
As a Christian, you have a more important family than the one you were born into. Your family is very important. Love your spouse; bless your children by spending quality and quantity time with them. Teach them of the glories of Christ and the importance of his beautiful bride. The best thing that you can do for your family and for the advance of the gospel is to focus on the church.