Opening the letter of 1 Thessalonians, you will be immediately struck with one of the greatest blessings we have in Christ – the wonderful family of God!
“Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy, To the church of the Thessalonians in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, knowing, beloved brethren, your election by God” (1 Thessalonians 1:1-4).
This is what Paul taught the church in Ephesus (Ephesians 2:19-22). As Christians, we are “members of the household of God”. The term “household” means family (cf. 1 Timothy 3:4-5, 15; 5:8). These verses tell us two things: 1) Family matters, and 2) We are a family. Jesus was the first to teach this when He spoke of the greater family of God (Matthew 12:46-50). It is a greater family in at least three ways:
We are a family in the Lord.
It is a spiritual family (Galatians 3:26-29). God is our Father and we are His children. That makes us brothers and sisters in Christ. We are united by the same faith and the same baptism by which we were united to Christ. We have the same Savior and the same Lord, Jesus. We are all one in Christ (cf. Ephesians 4:1-6). What matters is “if you are Christ’s”.
One of the most wonderful aspects of the church is that it is a family (Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Timothy 3:15). God created Adam and Eve, and since then everyone else was born into the physical family. We have been born again into the spiritual family of God, the church (John 3:1-8; Galatians 3:26-29; 1 Peter 1:20-25).
God is our Father (Matthew 7:7-11; Ephesians 4:6). Jesus Christ is our elder brother, Lord and Savior (Titus 1:4; Hebrews 2:14-18). The Holy Spirit is our comforter and helper (John 14:26; 15:26). We have spiritual fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters in God’s family, too (Matthew 12:46-50; 1 Corinthians 4:14-17; Galatians 4:19; 1 Timothy 5:1-2; Philemon 10). All over the world there are those to whom we are bound by a common love for God and faith in Jesus Christ (1 Timothy 1:14; 2 Timothy 1:13).
According to statistics, places of worship are the safest places in the world. Yet, we all are very aware of church buildings that have been devastated by weather, blown up by bombs and attacked by gunmen. This past Sunday, a gunman attacked a Baptist church in Texas, killing and injuring most of the worshipers. This came just weeks after another gunman entered a church of Christ in Tennessee, killing one and injuring several others. While our hearts go out to these victims and their families, all of this has caused some to mock our faith in God and to ridicule the power of prayer.
Robert Dodson is the Preaching Minister for the Northwest Church of Christ.
6059 Azle Avenue
Fort Worth, TX 76135