The word “family” is interesting. Here is a definition:
“a basic social unit consisting of parents and their children, considered a group, whether dwelling together or not.”
There are other uses for the word:
- The First Family, as in the white house
- The family, as in the mafia
- An extended group of relatives
- The staff or employees of an official
- The offspring of some animals
- The classification of plants and animals
However, none of those provide a warm, fuzzy feeling. Perhaps they are not intended to.
Families come in all shapes and sizes and reflect their culture, tradition, and heritage. The family dynamics in Japan will differ from those in Sweden, and so on.
One’s ancestry plays a part, whether large or small, in family development. In other words, where one originates is an influencer of where one is going. We may or may not be aware of such influences, but they exist whether we know it or not.
I often tease people with a piece of self-deprecating humor:
“My wife and I have similar backgrounds. We both come from horse cultures. Her family raised them, and my family stole them.”
No, neither is real; it is only a joke. But we all come from somewhere and from someone, and none of us had any say in the matter.
Those who are believers are familiar with these “family” phrases:
- The Family of God
- God’s Holy Family
- Family of Believers
- The Spiritual Family
In his letter to ancient Thessalonica, Paul wrote to express his love for the church, and he expressed it well. Every page offered words of love, affirmation, and care.
I find it interesting that Paul used the family model to communicate how he felt about Thessalonica’s believers. Consider these references from the 2nd chapter:
A Caring Mother, 2:7-8
“Just as a nursing mother cares for her children, so we cared for you. Because we loved you so much, we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well.”
A Caring Father, 2:11-12
“For you know that we dealt with each of you as a father deals with his own children, encouraging, comforting and urging you…”
2:9 “Surely you remember brothers and sisters…”
2:14 “For you, brothers and sisters…”
2:17 “But, brothers and sisters…”
Mom, Dad, and the kids were Paul’s choice to illustrate God’s model for the church, the Family model.
I freely admit that just as families at home have arguments, conflicts, and difficulties, so does the family at church. “Why is that,” you ask? Well, it is simple. It is because families are made of people, and people are messy. People are flawed, sometimes broken, and often demonstrate their imperfections.
Some say that churches are full of hypocrites. If they mean that Christians sometimes advocate one thing but live something else, then okay, we are occasionally hypocritical. Perhaps those who point out our hypocrisy might pause to measure themselves to a standard of human decency. It might turn out that we are all flawed, imperfect, and in need of divine help.
I love my family. I love the one at home and the one at church. Paul was right. If possible, whenever viable, both families need loving, caring mothers and encouraging comforting fathers.
Families are not perfect, but the divine model for families is, in fact, perfect.