Family is important but there is only one family that is eternal. Something we can lose sight of is that we are all related. We all come from the same Father, serve the same Lord, are united by the same Spirit. It doesn't matter your denomination with its specific emphasis on a particular doctrine from a set of doctrines; at the end of the day it is all about the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Maybe you sang a different style of song yesterday, listened to a different duration of sermon / message / homily, or whatever you want to call it. Maybe you wore different clothes than me, practiced a few different traditions, started at a different time. The thing is, we worshiped the same God, used the same Holy Scriptures, was spoken to by the same Spirit. Face it, we are family and this family gets to spend eternity together.
We put a lot of emphasis on our physical family in the Church. We hear a lot of sermons about it, we believe family to be the foundation of our society, we hear that they are the first ministry of the parents but especially the husband / father. We put such emphasis on it that some families make themselves exclusive instead of inclusive. It is in a desire to defend and protect that some families build walls and fences and will only let people get so close but not too close. This is sad because as important as our physical family is, we are desperate for our spiritual family. Each husband / father, wife / mother need a spiritual covering because we can't do it on our own. We need mother's and father's over us. We need the Church family with all its gifts surrounding us and us part of the covering of others. They don't even need to be from the same congregation or denomination because it is all the same family.
We would think we would understand this after a couple thousand years but we are pretty slow learners. Jesus defined this family for us. There was an incident when he was in the middle of teaching a crowd and he was interrupted to be told that his mother and brothers were outside waiting for him. Jesus' reply in no way represented disrespect but instead it was an explanation that things were changing:
“Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:48-50)
This is important to understand and to live as we work alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ. This is really important to understand when some of our physical family are not serving the Lord. We love them and will sacrifice for them but we don't have the same connection or priority for them as we do with our Spiritual family. We have a deep connection through the Spirit with anyone serving the Lord. There may be some differences but those differences are usually a result of immaturity rather then conflict in the Spirit. The Word of God spends a bit of time giving instruction on how to resolve things in the Body of Christ, and usually the onus is on the more mature:
Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters.(Romans 14:1)
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. (Romans 15:1)
We understand our responsibilities to our parents and to our brothers and sisters. Those who are older brothers and sisters especially understand the responsibility they carry. We know that mom's and dad's understand their responsibilities even if we are not very good at it. Yet, many of us do not understand our responsibility to each other in the Body of Christ. An older sibling understands that they are often given responsibility over a younger sibling yet they themselves still need the help and guidance of their parents. In the Body of Christ there will always be people less mature than we are as well as those who are far more mature than we are. We need to recognize those of greater maturity and who have that anointing for teaching and guidance. We need to accept the authority they have and be taught by them. At the same time we need to recognize the anointing and calling we have for those who are less mature and teach them in humility and kindness.
It is unfortunate that we allow sibling rivalry and petty jealousies to destroy what the Lord is doing. Our goal is to help each other become stronger in the Lord so we can all be equipped for the mission of restoring the lost souls to our Father. Our family is not born out of human decision but by the design of our Father. Our family doesn't exist just to exist; we have purpose and we have each other to help, support and encourage in that purpose. We have a family business that becomes our hearts desire the moment we are welcomed into this huge family. Jesus clarified how we demonstrate that we are part of his family; "For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." The will of the Father is actually a simple thing; his will is that everyone be saved from the coming destruction. Our part in that will is to tell the lost about Jesus, in word and action, and most definitely with power.
We dishonour both the Father and the Son when we fail to understand this about our eternal family, when we allow petty self-indulgent desires to separate us from those with the charge to love us and when we fail to love those we have been charged to love. We dishonour our God when we allow division and destruction to interrupt the family business, when we fail to submit to the authority he has placed over us and when we fail to take authority over those he has placed under us. "The problem with the Church is me" should be our attitude and we need to take action to change that today. We need to learn to love, accept, and work with each other because eternity is a very long time to spend together. Now let's get to work on this mission we have and stop being distracted by the silliness of the less mature.