Summary: All of us that know Christ as our Savior are part of the same family and household. We are all in the family of God. But just as physical families can experience conflict and turmoil, spiritual families can too!
The Local Church: All in the Family
1. All of us that know Christ as our Savior are part of the same family and household (Ephesians 2:19). We have the same Father (Ephesians 4:6) and are members of the same body (Ephesians 4:4). We are a spiritual family in Christ. We are all in the family of God.
2. There are many of you like me. Your physical family is separated from you by distance. Or maybe they are geographically close to you and you love them, but you really don’t share a lot in common. You are in Christ, and they are not.
3. Jesus taught that there can be a group of fellow believers in your life that are closer to you than physical family. Isn’t this amazing? Matthew 12:46-50
4. God has designed the church to be a place where you can literally gain an extended family (1 Timothy 5:1-2). I know many of you have experienced this, and it has revolutionized your life.
5. But just as physical families can experience conflict and turmoil, spiritual families can too! Paul realized this and gave us some good practical instruction in this chapter.
6. We must carefully guard and protect our spiritual relationships. How can we do this? There are three key words that we must always remember in regards to our spiritual relationships in the local church.
Unity – vs. 1
1. In Bible days, when a person became a Christian and he was a Jew, he was thrown out of the synagogue. If he was a Gentile, he was ostracized from the local pagan fellowship of idolatry.
2. Christians were brought together in fellowship and local assemblies, and there was a very strong sense of closeness, like family.
3. So Paul first deals with the issue of unity and showing common courtesy to one another in the family of God. Friction can develop in physical families. Why? Common courtesy simply is not shown to one another. Therefore Paul says:
• “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father…”
This isn’t necessarily talking about an official elder of the church. He is saying, “Show respect to those who are older than you.”
You don’t go around chewing people out when they cross you or disagree with you. You get them aside privately and talk to them with respect, as a father. When people fly off the handle, they show their lack of submission to the Holy Spirit.
• Paul also says, “…the younger men as brethren.”
Don’t look down your nose at another person just because he is younger. Treat him as a brother. Brothers are equals. Treat them as brothers, and as equals.
Paul is saying, “Treat people right, and with respect and courtesy.” It is possible to be right in principle, but wrong in practice. This hurts and destroys people and brings disunity and division in the family of God.
4. Many people pride themselves in the fact that they always speak their mind, no matter where they are or who they’re speaking to. This is not an admirable trait. It simply shows that the person has little discretion and little respect for other members of the family.