Often we say the church is a family. We can sometimes say it without even thinking about what it means. But it’s such a profound truth and powerful consequence of the Gospel. Jesus redefined what family and relationships were in his teachings, and church really is a loving family. Some people just wouldn’t survive without these relationships. 

Sometimes I can look at the church and notice the frustrations or things ‘I would do differently’. But the truth is, church is an amazing place that really cares and helps people like a family should. I love the church and have a lot of respect for people involved in running it.

So many people praying, asking how they were, and offering to help

I was reminded of this last month when I met up with a friend. He said his wife had been very ill and been in hospital for a while and is now recovering. He said his church family were absolutely amazing.

So many people praying, asking how they were, and offering to help cook meals and/or do other practical things to help.

He looked me in the eye and said ‘I wouldn’t have survived without my church family’.

Helping For One Reason Only 

This is what makes church so good. A place where people may not have lots in common, but they invest in the relationships at church and give up their time and money to go out of their way to help someone who needs it. For no reason other than wanting to help and love them. (Read Reflecting God’s Image Is Found In Plurality)

Another friend in my church who is a single parent and was very ill with a small child experienced the same thing. Dozens of people praying, checking up on them and offering to help practically.

The dynamic Jesus establishes goes deeper

Sometimes we can think relating in this way, loving our neighbour, is just a ‘nice’ thing to do. But the dynamic Jesus establishes goes deeper than that.

The Cross Changes Family 

In John’s Gospel, while Jesus is dying on the cross, he says this:

When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them…Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.
John 19: 23-27 

In light of what he is doing on the cross, he is redefining family. Blood ties are no longer the basis of family, it’s our belief in him. Belief in him leads his followers to love and care for each other and look after each other’s needs.

The church is not an extra family, the church is our family because of the cross.

In a world that seems to value independence above all and shouts ‘me me me’, it’s easy to forget that Jesus profoundly changed the relationship between followers on the cross. (Read The Cross Deals With More The Forgiveness, Right?). And why it is important to love people in the church.

Churches Can Give People Great Relationships 

The church is not an extra family, the church is our family because of the cross

I fall into the trap of complaining about church sometimes. Probably more than I care to admit. But I’m constantly humbled and reminded that running a church is hard work. Nothing is perfect. But I truly believe churches want to help people, can help people, and the love which is placed within actions and relationships reminds me of this.

My friends who were in need had people rally around them and go out of their way to help. In these loving acts we can not only love and help people, but it brings us closer to God. In the serving is where our relationship with God is also strengthened (Matthew 25:31-40).

Imagine if… 

We all know church is meant to be family. We know it should be the place where we see the best side of humanity.  We all know there are problems and clashes in personality too, but imagine if we reminded ourselves that the local church family is our family. (Read Guilt Is Individual, Shame Is Relational)

This week, what is the one thing we could do, or say, or not say, in order to build the family and make it stronger?

What makes it hard for us to treat the church like family? Comments welcomed below.

Originally posted 1/3/2017