How do you understand and practice the ecclesial truth of the Family of God? And not just in the social sense that we, who practice faith in Christ, are part of a new reality, but that we truly have a Father with whom we can intimately converse.
At Life on the Vine we speak of the centrality of the Baptismal Family, around which the Biological Family must be ordered. This means that those with children, or even married couples, must not mirror the dominant cultural obsession with the nuclear family and all its activities, habits, and typical seclusion. Rather, our Biological Families are not the center of the social, political, moral, or economic universe because the Family of God is the center of all things. We try to indoctrinate our congregation along these lines especially around Easter when we baptize our youth and new believers, and during Pentecost when we bless and receive infants into the community of the Family of God, exhorting young parents that they cannot do it alone. And the reverse is true for singles. While the culture debases singles and makes marriage the norm, in the Baptismal Family of God all have a necessary place, meaning, and significance.
But for me this is really just the surface of what it means, for really, there are so many of us who come from broken families, who never had fathers who loved them, who never had healthy brothers to protect or exhort them, who never had sisters to encourage them, and never had mothers to nurture them. There are so many who are lost and wandering because they never really had a family to speak of (even if there family existed in some sense with all the elements). There are some many who have been emotionally, relationally, and spiritually orphaned by their families, and they feel it so deeply every Christmas when they go home. Or perhaps they have just stopped going home because there is nothing there.
It is here, in these places of loneliness, of insecurity, of defensiveness, and hurt that the church must live out the truth of the Family of God. There is not merely pastors and congregants, employees and a building, founding members…No, we are fathers, and mothers, sisters and brothers to each other. One’s pain is all our pain; and another’s joy is all our joy. It is here that we break the rule of what it is OK to talk about with others who are in our family, where we say hard things, where we show and embarrassing amount of love, where we can just be awkward because its alright…you’re home.
So, how can we better witness to the Family of God? For, certainly, each biological family should be practicing the mission of God, but the Baptismal Family witnesses to the love of the Father for all.