Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity. — 1 Timothy 5:1b-2, NIV.
Piecing the puzzle:
If God transcends space-time (Isaiah 40:22), is love (1 John 4:8), is the Head of His Household (Col 1:18), and we are His children (Gal 3:26), does this make us, siblings?
I guess, when Paul contemplated about the Family of Christ after His fateful encounter on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-9), He must have realized that the collective believers of Christ are “in” Christ (Acts 9:4) and this Family is in every way, more adorable than our earthly, blood-related, earth-bound family.
Similarities between Spiritual and Earthly Families
I like to think that there are some similarities between the earthly family and spiritual ones. Both earthly and spiritual families are led by parents.
“God foreknew, predestined, and called us to be brothers and sisters in His name.”
On earth, most of us are born into the world and brought up by our biological parents. In the spiritual realm, we are created, led, and disciplined in life by God, our Father (Isaiah 64:8, John 10:16). On earth, children cannot choose their siblings. Likewise, in the spiritual realm, we cannot choose who are God’s sheep. We are all who God foreknew, predestined, and called to be brothers and sisters in His name (Romans 8:29-30). And lastly, earthly families share the same genetic makeup. Likewise, everyone within the spiritual family is in one another (John 17:20-23)
However, one should also consider the differences between the two families. The boundaries of earthly families are clearly defined by blood-ties. However, the boundaries of spiritual families are not that clearly defined. Hence, the biggest challenge that arises from it is the problem of recognizing one another.
How do you know each other?
From my personal observations in my day-to-day engagement with people in different ministries, I have drawn the conclusion that they just knew that they are sheep led by the same shepherd. Sheep from the same pen (by ‘same pen’, I am referring to the elected Christians with a certain form of church membership or affiliation) are naturally drawn to each other. We all listen to one voice (John 10:16) and are united in One Body in One Spirit, under One Father (Ephesians 4:3-6).
“The Holy Spirit within the individual enables believers to communicate with one another in a way that transcends understanding.”
The Holy Spirit within the individual enables believers to communicate with one another in a way that transcends understanding. When Mary visited Elizabeth before Jesus’ and John’s birth, the Holy Spirit filled the two ladies that caused them to give thanks to the Lord in a way they’d not expect (Luke 1:41-55). Likewise, when the Holy Spirit filled prophets in the Old Testament, they all prophesied, changed into a different person, and join others with the Spirit of God in prophesying (1 Samuel 10:6, 10).
It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that people recognize each other. Even in the current post-modern era that we are living now, people recognize each other based on each other’s’ work and the presence of the Spirit (1 John 4:1-6).
How should we respond to each other?
The natural inclination that we should have is to love one another with the knowledge that love comes from God (1 John 4:7). However, the world has confused many with a warped sense of “love” and “family”. The idea of “love” is so intertwined with marriage and family that so many people are asking the question if man and woman can be “just friends”. With the normalizing of homosexual relationships, it will only be a matter of time when people start blurring the lines between friends with the same gender and “romantic love”.
“Children of God should be able to recognize the Voice of God that warns us about Satan’s ploy to warp the worldwide understanding of “love” to that that will lead us away from Christ.”
On this note, it is easy to see why so many people are beginning shield themselves potential hurt that was caused by uncertain emotional investments. However, we as children of God should be able to recognize the Voice of God that warns us about Satan’s ploy to warp the worldwide understanding of “love” to that that will lead us away from Christ.
Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. This is how we know that we live in him and he in us: He has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in them and they in God. And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus.
— 1 John 4:11-17, NIV.
“The Spiritual family may not be related by blood, but we are One in the Spirit, and we need each other.”
We need each other to fulfil God’s calling for us as a Body. There are parts of the Body that is less honourable and some that are more honourable. We should all work together to assist one another to fulfil God’s good work (1 Corinthians 12:12-31). We should not shun each other but groom each other in Christ until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God so that we may attain the full measure of the fullness of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-13).
The Family of Christ is closer than your own earthly family.
That said, the family of Christ is closer than our earthly family. Even though we may pray fervently for the salvation of our families, we may not be certain if our family members are predestined and called by God. Rather, we are certain that there is a greater truth that guards the universe and God’s ultimate family in the eternal realm — “Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50, NIV).
The Spiritual family may not be related by blood, but we are One in the Spirit, and we need each other.