Summary: Good News: the church is like a family. Bad news: the church is like a family.
Church Family Matters
1 Timothy 3:15, 5:1-8
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Introduction: I have some good news and some bad news today. Which do you want first?
Did you hear about the guy who was called into his doctor’s office? The doctor sat him and down and said, “I have some good news and bad news. Which do you want first?” “Give me the good news first.” “Ok,” the doctor said, “Your tests are back and you have three days to live.” “That’s the good news?” the guy exclaimed. “For heaven’s sake, what’s the bad news?” “My receptionist has been trying to get hold of you for two days!”
Are you ready for a really bad joke? Here’s the bad news. A guy falls out of an airplane at a thousand feet in the air. The good news is he had a parachute on. The bad news is the parachute didn’t open. The good news is there was a huge haystack on the ground right where he was heading. The bad news is there was a pitchfork lying in the middle of the haystack, tines up. The good news is—he missed the haystack.
Today we close our annual Season of the Family. We have explored a lot of different Bible teachings on family matters. Behind many of those passages rests another idea. Family matters don’t end at our front door. They extend all the way to the church door.
Since our good news/bad news vote was too close to call, I will have to decide. Let’s start with the good news: the church is like a family.
The Church is Family—That’s Good News! That’s the theme of our text. Did you catch the wording of 1 Timothy 3:15? “I am writing … so that you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth.” That word “household” is the term for family. It is the same word used twice a couple paragraphs earlier. Note 1 Timothy 3:4-5, “[An overseer] must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect. 5(If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)” The same word is used in a similar way in the second passage I read. Consider 1 Timothy 5:4, “[Children of widows] should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family.” Again 1 Timothy 5:8, it says, “8If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Two lessons are obvious. First, family matters. Second, the church is also a family!
Our text is not the only place where the Bible makes this claim. Ephesians 2:19-20 reads, “Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household…” That’s our word again. Hebrews 2:11 contains an amazing statement. The passage is talking about the Son of God identifying with humanity and becoming a man to die on the cross for us. “Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” We are family on earth and in heaven. That’s good news.
We are family because we have the same Heavenly Father. That’s the only way into this family. Now there is a general sense that all humans are children of God. Occasionally the Bible talks like that (cf. Acts 17:29). But most of the time the Bible’s family language is more restrictive. For example, Jesus gets in the face of some of his self-righteous religious adversaries by telling them that they are “children of the devil, not children of God.” If they were children of God, he says, they would love and obey God rather than loving themselves and obeying their own man-made traditions (John 8:31-47). In another place, Jesus defined his brothers and sisters as those who obey and follow him (Luke 12:46-50).
Let me make this crystal clear. Not everyone is a part of God’s family. I hope all of you are. If you are, it is not because you are black or white or rich or poor. It is not about being religious or trying to be nice to everyone. The family of God is not defined by the family you born in, the rituals you observe, or the place you go on Sunday morning. A person becomes a part of the family by believing and obeying the Gospel of salvation through Christ alone. Anyone can become part of the family, no matter who you are, where you have been, or what you have done. Galatians 3:27-28 puts it this way, “For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” That is good news.