Family

I miss family. Yes, blood family. But I’m primarily referring to church family.

A sense of family is, in my opinion, the main feature missing from the church in its current manifestation.

It is nearly impossible to have family relationships when the goal is to grow into a megachurch. Most churches seem to have some program of small groups to work at alleviating this problem. Maybe that actually works for some churches and some people, but I haven’t seen it work very successfully. The group tends to become another obligation in a busy life rather than a joyful gathering of family.

Perhaps I’m jaded. No, not perhaps. I am definitely jaded. I’ve lived long enough to see lots of attempts and little success.

This is a problem for which I don’t have a solution. It goes against my grain to complain without offering a solution, but I truly have none. I fear the problem will remain until such time as the church regimen we know collapses in failure amid the coming tough times and we basically have to start over. That might do it.

Anyway, I’m studying Galatians and a comment by David deSilva was the impetus for my thinking about this problem. Please pardon the quote of a whole paragraph—I know that people don’t like to read long things online. I thought the comment was thought-provoking.

Paul’s use of kinship language at the outset of this letter is significant; it sounds a theme that will dominate Galatians. God is the “father” of this vastly extended household (1:1, 3); the believers in Christ are “sisters and brothers” (1:2) to one another, even across great distances. The Christian movement constitutes thus a global “household of faith” (6:10). Paul, like other early Christian leaders, uses the language of family to speak of the relationships between Christians throughout the evangelized world, inviting believers to accept not only a new relationship in regard to the one God (sons and daughters) but a new relationship with one another (brothers and sisters). Those who are, by birth, “outsiders” to one another in terms of blood relations are called upon to accept one another, to look out for one another, and to invest in one another as the closest of “insiders.” They are called upon to give one another the gifts that accompany being siblings—cooperation, sharing of material resources and other advantages, truth-telling and faithfulness, the nurturing of harmony and unity, investing in advancing one another’s interests—and to approach one another from this vantage point. As people who have been brought together into a single family, they are called upon to banish all those things that would be unseemly within a natural family—competition, looking out for one’s own interests at the expense of another, manipulation and withholding truth and true intentions, and the like. So much of the ethical vision for Christian relationships and community in the New Testament can be traced directly back to the understanding that God was fashioning a new family out of the many, unrelated people redeemed by Christ’s blood—and who are therefore now related in truth by blood.

David A. deSilva, The Letter to the Galatians, ed. Ned B. Stonehouse et al., The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2018), 116.

Get that? We are related by blood! That ought to make a difference, yes?

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