Frequently in the Epistles of the New Testament we find believers referred to as ‘brethren’ (‘αδελφοι’ in Greek) – e.g. 1 Thessalonians 4:13. The Apostles, as leaders of the Early Church, would refer to their flocks as ‘children’ (‘τεκνια’ in Greek) at times – e.g. 1 John 2:1. The purpose of this post is not to discuss the use of titles such as ‘father’ in a church context, but to emphasize the family links between believers in Jesus.

The basis for this link may be found in John 1:12-13 (NKJV), ‘But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.’ Belief in Jesus the Messiah is the starting point for a return to the family of God.

Why do I use the word return? At Luke 3:38 Adam, the first human, is referred to as ‘the son of God’ (‘του θεου’ in Greek – granted the word ‘son’ is missing, but the context and genitive construction implies it). Mankind started out as children of God, but our sin and expulsion from the Garden separated us from Him; we no longer enjoyed the kind of communion a family experiences.

This separation is seen the the way that God is described in the Old Testament; to be sure, there are a few instances where He is referred to as Father, but mostly He is not. With the Messenger of the New Covenant, Jesus the Messiah, comes reconciliation and restoration. He teaches Man to once again call God ‘Father’ (see Matthew 6:1-17 and Matthew 23:9). God’s Spirit in us teaches us to cry out ‘Abba’, which is a Hebrew word meaning something like ‘Dad’, to God (Galatians 4:6).

So, where does that leave us? I am very blessed to be in a church where everyone knows and cares for each other; we really do feel like a family. But I’ve been in larger churches where it’s harder to get to know everyone. Homegroups and meals together after church have been a wonderful way for me to get to know other believers, if not all of those at that church.

They say that blood is thicker than water. Christ by His blood has restored mankind to the family of God; it is by His love and sacrifice that we are adopted. This is why we need to treasure other believers as family – because Christ died for you, just as He died for me. Our home is not on earth, but in Heaven (John 14:2-3; Philippians 3:20). By all means we should love and cherish our earthly family – anyone who does not is worse than an unbeliever (Exodus 20:12; 1 Timothy 5:8). But it is our heavenly family that will stand the test of time, that will last through the ages. We need to make a special effort to maintain the bond of love in the family of God; just as a real family goes through its trials, arguments, and highs, so we go through the challenges and pleasures of family life.

I’ll leave you with these words from our Lord, ‘A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.’ (John 13:34-35, NKJV.)