There is no more beautiful human relationship than that of family. These are the people who are the closest to us and who are most dear in our hearts. We sometimes speak of them as being our blood relations. By this we mean that they share the same essence as ourselves. Biologically we share the same DNA and many of the same physical characteristics. Emotionally and psychologically we think and react similarly, if not exactly the same as each other.
In some circumstances a disparate group of people may come together in a relationship that is nearly as close as that of a physical family. The 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team is an example of this phenomenon. They were an especially tight-knit team, even though they were composed of men of various ages, ethnicities, social, and educational backgrounds. They thought of themselves as a family and even adopted a popular song of the time as their theme song. That song was We Are Family by Sister Sledge. The unique chemistry of this team, along with their family-like devotion to each other resulted in them winning the World Series that year.
The benefits of being a family are easily seen and greatly to be desired. It is no wonder, then, that this is one of the images used to portray the body of Christ, which is His church. God, the Father, is the patriarch of the family. Jesus, the Son, is the older brother and heir of the family. Those who are Christians are the adopted children in the family. In Eph. 1:5 Paul spoke of this adoption. He said of God, “He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will.”
As members of the family of God, Christians share certain things in common. These things are our spiritual DNA, as it were. The most important of these is redemption, the forgiveness of our sins. When we obey the gospel our sins are washed away (Acts 22:16), and we are clothed with Christ (Gal. 3:27). Because our sins have been forgiven, we become heirs in the family of God. In Gal. 3:29 Paul said, “And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.” As heirs of the promise, we share the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit, who is the pledge of our inheritance (Eph. 1:13-14). As members of the family of God, we share the same destiny, which is a place being prepared for us in heaven (Jn. 14:1-3).
In the same manner as in a physical family, there are certain expectations for how we should conduct ourselves. In Col. 3:1-17 Paul spoke in some detail about these expectations. Members of the family of God are expected to refrain from every kind of ungodly word or deed. At the same time they are expected to exhibit certain qualities such as compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, patience and forgiveness. The bottom line is that whatever we do in word or deed must be done in the name of our Lord Jesus; that is, by His authority and in accordance with His will (Col. 1:17).
Because we are adopted into the family of God, we are in many senses different from each other. However, these differences should no longer apply in our relationships with each other. Like the Pittsburgh Pirates of 1979, we should be tight-knit and devoted to each other in the family of God. No one should be more important to us than our brothers and sisters in Christ. There should be no length to which we wouldn’t go for one of our spiritual family. God the Father and Jesus His Son have done much more for us than we can ever do for each other. Therefore, we must love and support each other all the way to heaven, because we are family.