What does it mean to be part of a family?
“Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God.” – I John 3:1
One of the words that is currently popular in our culture is ‘member.’ Big box stores use this word to describe those who have paid for the privilege of shopping there. Credit Unions use this word to describe their customers, those who have joined the credit union as their financial institution. This word is used to indicate a relationship that is more permanent and personal than merely a ‘customer.’ Customers come and go according to the need of the moment. Members are here to stay and demonstrate a consistent use of the services offered.
‘Member’ has also traditionally been the word used to indicate being part of a family. My uncle is a member of my family. But does this merely mean someone who more commonly participates in my family than in other families? Or does this mean something deeper? What does it really mean to be part of, or a member of a family?
Being part of a family means that I participate in the goals of the family. When my children were small I explained that in a family ‘everybody helps.’ When the baby was too little to help, our oldest child asked, “How does she help?” I answered, “She provides cuteness.” There are no extraneous members of a family, all are an important part; if any of them is missing, the family is not whole.
In a family we learn the family business. It is a very modern construct that each person individually chooses their own livelihood. At the age of twelve, Jesus answered Mary and Joseph, “Did you not know that I must be about my Father’s business?” But at the same time, Jesus was learning his earthly father’s business as well.
Jesus always described his relationship with God as Father and Son. When He referred to God it was always, ‘my Father.’ When Jesus described our relationship with God, He did so in family terms. John 1:12 says, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believed on His name.” The Father does not describe us as slaves, servants, associates or customers. We are His children, members of His family, a relationship initiated by birth and continuing until our death and beyond.
When we see ourselves as members of a family, we have a far different perspective than as a customer or spectator. We are important and never extra. We participate in the goals of our family; goals that God the Father has given us and empowers us to pursue. We care for one another. When one member is hurting, the others gather around to help. We are joined together with a common purpose and as we move forward together, the very gates of Hell cannot prevail against us!
Prayer – Lord, let us know the depths of your love for us, who we are in you and what that means to our life among those around us.
Devotional Contributor: Therese Nehrt