Does the church ever feel like a family to you? Does it always feel like a family to you?
Paul in Galatians 6 called the church the “household of faith.”
“So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
The word “especially” caught my attention. We are to do good to everyone, but “especially” those in the household of faith – to those in the church. Especially to them.
Well, that’s some inward thinking, isn’t it? We’re to be kind to everyone, but especially to those who are one of us – to those who are inside the church?
As Christians, we might be inclined to say just the opposite: “Don’t worry about your fellow church members, you really need to love your neighbor outside the church. Be kind to the people in the pews, but be especially kind to the guy or gal who doesn’t yet know Jesus Christ.”
That’s not what Paul wrote.
It’s important to understand Paul considered the church to be a “household.” A household in Paul’s day was basically one big biological family that lived together in one home – kids, parents, grandparents, and maybe even great-grandparents. A wealthier household also would include some other folks, maybe some servants and even slaves.
That was a “household,” and the people within it lived in lockstep with one another. They needed to live in lockstep. Their survival depended on their ability to get along and to advance the household’s interests – to look out for the better welfare of the household. So they lived in unity. They took care of each other’s physical needs. And they were extremely loyal to one another.
And Paul described the church as a household. As members of the church, we live in unity with one another. We care for each other’s physical needs. And we are loyal to one another. We have a common purpose, and we can only achieve that common purpose if we are of one mind.
So we are kind and loving and charitable toward everyone. But we are especially kind and loving and charitable with those who are in our church family.
Is that how the church feels to you? If not, why not?