Bruxy Cavey, the teaching pastor at the Meetin House in Toronto Canada, is starting a new teaching series on what he calls the Modern Family. In the first sermon of that series, he uses Matthew 12:46-50 to make the point that the church is Jesus’ family.
While Jesus was still talking to the crowd, his mother and brothers stood outside, wanting to speak to him. Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to speak to you.”
He replied to him, “Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” Pointing to his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
From there, Bruxy goes on to use Mark 10:28-31 to make the point that those who leave their family to follow Jesus receive a reward. Of course, most of us look to the reward of the next age (heaven), but Bruxy points out that the reward begins “in this age”. That is, one who leaves his or her family to follow Jesus will (probably when they are rejected by their family of origin) receives a much larger family here on earth. That means they receive, and are received, into the family of God.
Then Peter spoke up, “We have left everything to follow you!”
“Truly I tell you,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age: homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—along with persecutions—and in the age to come eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”
This is what we call the missional family at Etchea. It is the church, and goes beyond the nuclear family to include all those who follow Jesus.
The issue I have is this: I don’t often see it happening. Do you? How good is your church at welcoming others into a real family? Are your church members brothers and sisters, and treated with that much love? Are the lonely and misfits invited for dinner, holidays, and companionship? Is there a process of mourning if one is to leave the fold, or is it just a choice they made that doesn’t really affect your church?
I fear, and have experienced, that too many churches are willing to force people out of their organizational churches because of disagreements about how things should be done, or just simply because they are not the kind of friends that seem right for us. Some times these people are forced out by a request to leave. Usually, they are forced out by being ignored.
By the way, I’m not talking here about evangelizing the world through welcoming unbelievers like family. I’m talking about a foundational aspect that must exist before a church can have a testimony in this world. This foundation is that it must survive as the family of God. There’s no magical how for being the family of God, no 10 steps to being a family. What you are to do is to accept the other believers in your midst as family. Do that, and you’ll be the family.