We are children of God who live our lives as his family. Living as a family is difficult. It takes commitment and persistence. It takes open and regular communication. It requires that you nurture a relationship in ways that create intimacy and depth. When we consider our identity of being the family of God, it demands of us that we know our father and live in accord with his will.
What we must be clear on however is that God is not a tyrant father, who is heavy handed. He is a loving and kind father who cares deeply about his children. He desire communion with us in deep and profound ways that help us not only understand his will, but to listen to his voice. Being a part of the family of God means that we commit ourselves to deepen our relationships between us and the Father and one another.
In Matthew 12 Jesus is talking with a crowd of folks doing his thing, and his mother and brothers come looking for him. One of the folks in the crowd alerts Jesus to the presence of his mother and brothers, yet his response is a little unexpected and even paradigm shifting for the crowd. He states, “who is my mother and who are my brothers? Whoever does the will of my father is my brother, sister, and mother.”
When we come into the Family of God we are given a family deeper than blood.
In the Ancient Near East (ANE) the idea of family had a much deeper value than how we view family in our current western context. The ANE culture commonly maintained a strong familial bond even after children were married. For Jesus to open the definition of family to non-blood related people is to create a new paradigm for the children of God to operate from. Now they would give themselves to God and one another in a much deeper communal way.
In John 17 Jesus prays for unity among his followers, with a unity like what he and the Father have. This unity is the depth of relationship shared between a father and son. In vv. 25-26 Jesus specifically prays that because we know the Father has sent the Son, we would also know the love that the Father had for the Son as a love for us too.
The understanding that Jesus brings unity between us and the Father should propel us into a deep relationship with the Father. It should spur us on to devotion in the scriptures learning the will, and voice of God through them. It should move us to prayer being able to hear the voice of the Father through the Spirit, and share with him our lives in that time. This understanding we have with the Father should also affirm that we are loved and approved as his sons and daughters. There is nothing that we can do to separate us from the love of the Father, his approval is given freely without hesitation or strings.
Family doesn’t just focus on one member.
Our most important relationship in the family is the one with our Father, because it informs our relationship with one another. Living as a family is not just about how we live life with our Father, we must also live in unity and intimacy with our brothers and sisters. Jesus calls us to love one another through service, care, concern, intercession, and mission. In each of these things we grow in our relationship with one another. We learn to understand the voice and will of the Father as a family unity.
Simultaneously we learn what is to live as a son/ daughter of God as well as live as brothers/ sisters to one another. Both aspects of the family are important. Not only do they grow us in wisdom and stature as a child of God, but they also project the Glory of our father to the observing world.