Church as Family
The church is the household of God [Ephesians 1:5, 2:19-21, 1 Timothy 3:14-15]. It is a family. People in our culture are increasingly unfamiliar with what family life should be like and to many, the idea of family does not provide positive and healthy memories or possibilities. Nevertheless, upon our belief in Christ, the sealing of the Spirit in us, and our baptism into the names of the Father, Son, and Spirit, (which is a renaming ceremony), Christians make up the family of God.
What should God’s family (and all families) be like? Just as human families are tied together by biological and genetic ties, the family of God is bonded together by the indwelling Spirit. His primary work is to build the family of God into a mature, unified, and peaceful whole [Ephesians 2:18-22, 4:1-16]. Churches are local manifestations of this heavenly reality. The more churches and the people in them strive for unity and peace together, the more they will experience the fullness of the indwelling God. Churches do not experience the unity and peace of the Spirit by ignoring or dismissing the ultimate causes of hostility and conflict, which are deceptions and sin. Instead, through the power of the gospel and the Holy Spirit working in the church, sin and deception is exposed, confessed, forgiven, and overcome in the context of the family of God who collectively see people and their sin as Christ does—with truth, love, grace, forbearance, and forgiveness. We all need support and help to weed out the deceptions and sins buried deep within us that hurt others and us. While the indwelling Spirit does the work of transforming us, a good deal of His work comes through the efforts of other people, which is the church, the family of God. The church is not a place where trial, sin, and conflict never occur, but it is a place that should lovingly address these things for the overcoming of sin and the experience of strength found in the unity of God’s people. In this way, the beauty of Jesus’ work is revealed in the context of a reconciled family of people that love one another, even when they are unlovely.