Some of my earliest recollections as a child growing up in the church include the vibrant singing of God’s people. Coming from a family focused a lot on music, I remember singing the song often “The Family of God.” Reading from the writings of the Apostle Paul to the Galatians we read, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10)
As we combine the thoughts of the song with this Scripture verse, we can recognize a phrase from one verse of the song that says, “You may notice we say brother and sister ’round here. It’s because we’re a family and these folks are so dear.” The terms “brother” and “sister” are, without question, terms of endearment. From my earliest recollections, as we travelled across the United States ministering in a variety of churches, we were taught to refer to the people of the churches as “brother” and “sister”. It was both endearing and respectful.
It is noteworthy that Paul, while not releasing us from the responsibility to reach out to “all men”, adds, “especially unto them who are of the household of faith.” I see that as an endearment among those that are a part of the family of God.
In the physical sense it is a genetic blood-line that causes us to be born into a family. The song, in a very theologically accurate way states what it is that makes us a part of this “Family of God.” It is not merely shared interests or shared geography but rather, “I’ve been washed in the Fountain, cleansed by His blood.” It is the atoning Blood of Jesus Christ that brings us into this family.
While we recognize in the physical realm that through a genetic blood-line we are born into a family, it is also very apparent that the genetic blood-line does not erase our differences. My wife and I over a period of nine years gave birth to four children. Though coming through the same genetic blood-line, those four children were all unique and very different from one another. They were different in hair color, eye color, complexion, height, weight and even interests, but they also had a very endearing common bond—we are family.
And so it is in the spiritual realm. We share the common bond of being a part of the “blood-washed” throng. Yet while the blood of Jesus Christ washes us to the core, it in no way removes our distinct human differences. Our enemy often pushes us to focus on our differences as if that is cause for concern and, at worst, cause for non-acceptance, or at least, cause for non-fellowship. In fact, our differences are all a part of God’s design and should have no effect on the focus of our endearing common bond—we are family.
Another phrase of the song we can focus on is, “when one has a heart-ache, we all share the tears and rejoice in each victory in this family so dear.” Here again it is beneficial for us to draw a parallel from the physical realm. Within a given family unit there are both joys and sorrows that are shared much more intimately than would be with someone outside that family unit. For example, I may learn from a public news source of a stranger who has just experienced a shocking tragedy. Having worked with people in pastoral ministry during most of my adult life, I would certainly not describe myself as a cold, non-caring individual. Yet while my human heart would ache for the stranger of whom I just received tragic news, I may or may not shed a tear. I reiterate, that is not because I am a cold, non-caring individual. The fact is, I do not have a relationship with them. In contrast, to receive tragic news regarding a member of my family unit can literally cause heart-wrenching sobs to flow from the inner-most recesses of my being. Likewise to receive great news concerning a stranger versus receiving the same kind of news regarding a family member is to bring similarly contrasting emotions. Again, I am not a cold, non-caring individual because of my diminished excitement for the stranger versus the family member. What makes a difference? We are family. Here again, the Apostle Paul’s words are so accurately fitting when he admonishes, “especially those of the household of faith.” Interestingly enough, just a few verses earlier, Paul says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
At this juncture, I want to pause and send a SHOUT OUT to all the IHC family and say a heart-felt “THANK YOU!!” to all of you who have carried us through prayer since the heart-breaking auto accident in November 2019 that took the life of our beloved daughter Jacinda. We cannot describe through words the emotional support that we have experienced as the result of your caring hearts. What makes the difference? We are family.
Of course, one of the great joys that accompany being a part of a family is when you are afforded the opportunity to join together for a family reunion. Reminiscing takes place, stories are told, laughter ensues. And certainly within the Family of God we enjoy the opportunities for reunion from time to time. We enjoy the revival meetings, camp meetings, local IHCs and the national IHC when we gather together as “joint-heirs of Jesus” to give praise and honor to the One who brought us into this family. And certainly as we look ahead, we anticipate with great excitement the reunion of all reunions when we shall gather together in that camp meeting in the skies, reunited with loved ones who’ve gone on before, enjoying the fellowship of fellow believers as we praise and magnify our King, never to part any more. What is it that makes that reunion so appealing? WE ARE FAMILY! Ⅸ