Sunday Sermons

Sunday Sermons

We Are Family


Alongside the apostle John, I am truly amazed that God has given us the privilege to be in His family, “See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are” (1 John 3:1). Paul noted that through faith and baptism we become children of God (Galatians 3:26-27), and that the church is not only the pillar and ground of the truth, it is also the household of God (1 Timothy 3:15). Jesus clearly taught that this spiritual family that He would create with His death and resurrection, would be the ultimate, and most important family of all. These spiritual family ties even take precedence over earthly family ties, “While He was still speaking to the multitudes, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. And someone said to Him, ‘Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You’. But He answered the one who was telling Him and said, ‘Who is My mother and who are My brothers?’ And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, ‘Behold, My mother and My brothers!’ For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother’” (Matthew 12:46-50). The Hebrew writer adds that not only does Jesus consider us family, or, “His people” (in spite of our past sins) He is not ashamed to call us His brothers (Hebrews 2:11). In this lesson I want to consider some blessing in the truth that the church is not only a family, but “the family”.

  • You have more than one set of parents

“Truly I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or other or father or children... for My sake and for the gospel’s sake, but that he shall receive a hundred times as much now in the present age, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children…” (Mark 10:29). Timothy appears to have had a father who did not at all encourage him in seeking God (Acts 16:1ff), yet in Paul, he definitely did find someone who fathered him, and treated him like is own son (2 Timothy 1:2). In addition, Christians are to treat other Christians as “family” (1 Timothy 5:1-2), which means that we talk to one another, and interact with each other as a supportive, encouraging, and loving family.

  • No one is an only child

When we became Christians we instantly inherited all sorts of new brothers and sisters, not only in the local congregation, but across the world as well. If you never had a sister, or grew up in a family without any brothers, or if you never had an older brother or a younger brother, you have plenty of them now. Let’s avoid the temptation of isolating ourselves, or just spending time among physical family. Instead, let’s invest heavily in the precious relationships God has given us.

  • You are now on a talented team

Various places in the Scriptures the Holy Spirit reminds us that when we are baptized we were added to a family (Acts 2:41) that is filled with talented people, including ourselves, “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us…”(Romans 12:6). Seeing that God wanted Christians organized into local congregations, it is clear that this structure is beneficial for us and displays God’s wisdom (Ephesians 3:10-11).

  1. 1.The team can accomplish much more than the mere individual. We all benefit immeasurably from being on this team
  2. The church is filled with “experts” in various fields -- just waiting to be tapped or asked, thus often making your efforts much more fruitful. There is something you can learn from every member. Take advantage of opportunities to spend time with various Christians -- not just one group
  3. You will have more joy being on the team filled with a wide variety of fascinating personalities, than by being a loner.
  • When Visiting Christians in Other Places: Acts 21:4; Romans 15:24

Not only do we have a wonderful family in the local congregation in which we attend, we equally have a universal family. In the First Century Christians traveled (Romans 16:2), and today, Christians obviously travel more than ever, and this can be a source of great spiritual encouragement.

  1. Do your research - ask people you already trust and find out where to worship when traveling. You will miss out on some wonderful congregations and experiences if you skip this first step and just wing it.
  2. Make sure you linger after services. Loitering is allowed when visiting churches!
  3. Be outgoing when visiting, do not wait for people to come up and introduce themselves, rather, make the first move. Give them your name and where you are from, and ask them the same, then keep the conversation going.
  4. Always accept invitations to go home or go out with people.
  5. Observe what they are doing as a congregation, is there anything they are doing that would work well in Beaverton? Are they doing something better or more effectively? Share your observations with the elders and deacons.
  6. Do not look for problems, for every congregation has them, even those what look to be the most successful. Rather, concentrate on what they are doing well, and encourage them for doing so.
  7. Give the group a chance and do not make quick judgments. If you are staying in the area, be back on Sunday night or Wednesday night. I have found that often you will meet more people on the second service. People sometimes need to see you twice before they have the opportunity or the courage to come up and introduce themselves.
  8. Initially someone who might seem distant or cold may end up being you enjoy greatly, thus you might find that your initial impression was entirely mistaken.
  9. Talk in the Bible classes; add your input. In other words, when you arrive to study and worship, study and worship! Get out of the “visitor mentality”.
  10. When traveling, stay with Christians if you can. This one crucial step will often “make” the trip or at least add tremendous flavor to the whole experience.
  11. Be humble. One mistake people often make is thinking that where they live is always better. Immerse yourself in the lives of those in a congregation and the surrounding culture as well. Learn the reasons why people enjoy living in a particular area, and you often discover new blessings God has showered exclusively upon one area or another.
  • The Wisdom of Hospitality

There are a number of verses which clearly indicate that God considers hospitality to be something essential as well as beneficial:

  • “Practicing hospitality” (Romans 12:13).
  • “But hospitable” (Titus 1:8).
  • “Be hospitable to one another without complaint” (1 Peter 4:9).
  • “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it” (Hebrews 13:2).

Initially, opening up one’s home to someone might sound like a lot of extra work, and may even be quite intimidating. We might think to ourselves, “I’m not sure if I want to have people over, after all, they might not approve of something I have, or my home may not measure up to their standards”. I like what one woman said recently, “My home is God’s home, and my home is your home, and you can look in any cabinet in the house, and if you find something that I should not have, you can correct me”. I like this attitude of fearlessness and openness, after all, God sees everything anyway (Hebrews 4:12). In one sense, we actually do have no privacy, so we should not guard our privacy to the point that it hinders us serving God and His people. Let’s live in a way that we have nothing to hide, and invite others into our homes.

  • The level of our love for each other

It is clear that God expects us not merely to interact, get along, or tolerate each other, but to genuinely love each other:

  • “Let love of the brethren continue” (Hebrews 13:1).
  • “Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins” (1 Peter 4:8).
  • “Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the heart” (1 Peter 1:22).
  • “…love one another, even as I have loved you” (John 13:34).

It has been the experience of this preacher that fervent love and “even as I have loved you – love” flourishes when distance is removed. It is far easier to fulfill these commands when you are talking to another Christian, listening to their struggles, hearing their story, hearing them express their faith and trust in Christ and finding out how much we have in common. I think you will often find, in a short time, how quickly brotherly love and respect grows when you see in a newly met brother or sister in Christ, and realize more deeply that you are sharing in a common salvation and a common faith (Jude 3). Rather than making a human authority structure to ensure unity among His people, God gave us all the same message (John 17:20-21), and the commands to be hospitable, which, when practiced, is amazing in what it accomplishes among God’s people.