~By: Krista Steuber~
I think most often the word ‘family’ immediately brings to mind our parents, siblings, spouse, children, and all of our other relatives: in-laws, grandparents, aunts and uncles, etc. In other words, we think about our earthly family; the family we were born (or adopted) into and/or the family we created through marriage.
What I’ve learned over the past two years is, actually, that’s an incomplete picture of our family. As Christians who have been reborn in Christ and are living a life of following Jesus, our Heavenly Father gives us an entire spiritual family as well.
But to all who believed Him [Jesus Christ] and accepted Him, He gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn...a birth that comes from God. John 1:12-13 NLT
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. ...You received God’s Spirit when He adopted you as His own children. Now we call Him, “Abba, Father.” For His Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children. And since we are His children, we are His heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God’s glory. Romans 8:14-17 NLT
Not only is God our Abba Father, but we have spiritual brothers and sisters and sons and daughters, and maybe those who are spiritual mother or father figures to us. The phrase “brothers and sisters” is used so often in Scripture and points us to the fact that, as Christians, we have numerous brothers and sisters in Christ.
Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then He pointed to His disciples and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. Anyone who does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother!” Matthew 12:48-50 NLT
For God knew His people in advance, and He chose them to become like his Son, so that His Son would be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:29 NLT
The significance of our spiritual family is huge! Our identity in Christ is solidified within our spiritual family. We need our spiritual family to help us mature in our faith and live out our unique God-ordained purpose. They help us to remain obedient and keep our focus on Christ. Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians highlights this when he wrote, “Don’t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? And you know that we treated each of you as a father treats his own children. We pleaded with you, encouraged you, and urged you to live your lives in a way that God would consider worthy. For He called you to share in His Kingdom and glory.” (1 Thessalonians 2:9;11-12 NLT)
The Body of Christ (His Church) is our large scale spiritual family, but within that, God gives us a smaller ‘tribe’ that we become bonded to spiritually. Since I have become a follower of Christ, God has thrown open the doors, so to speak, to my spiritual family. Living in Florida, I have no relatives besides my husband, but God has given me an amazing spiritual family; more than I could have ever expected. It’s different from typical friendships; it’s more like sibling bonds. It's a deep connectedness that is rooted in Christ. I have such a closeness with my spiritual sisters. We do life together. Some of us work together in ministry. We celebrate holidays and kids’ birthdays together. We share our struggles and pain, pray for, and support one another through the storms of life. We help when another has a need. We encourage one another and help each other to always keep in the forefront that our identity and worth, our fulfillment, and our joy come from Christ alone. We hold each other accountable to stay on track and live a godly life of faith and obedience. By doing this, we help each other to mature and grow spiritually.
It’s essential to be aware, though, that our earthly and spiritual families are equally important. God has given us both for a purpose. I think sometimes they may overlap and we have members who are in both, but most often, they are completely separate. We must maintain balance between the two and not neglect one or the other. Only living within one is lopsided; we must coexist within both. Our earthly family and our spiritual family are of equal importance to God, and He has placed us within both for a reason. Living within both actually gives us more clarity for the purpose God has for our life and our role in each type of family.
There may be a lot of fracturedness within our earthly family. Relationships may not be the way we want them, and there may be past hurts, bitterness, and unforgiveness that linger. Our spiritual family can be a part of our healing process. They can be the ones to give us that connection and closeness in relationships we all crave that may be missing from our earthly family. They can help us see the pain and brokenness from a new perspective; the one that comes from God and serves a greater purpose. They can help us move through the negative and come to a place of laying all of that down at the feet of Jesus. Even if relationships are good within our earthly family, our spiritual family will still propel us toward being better wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters.
If you are only living within your earthly family, you are missing out on all of what God has for you! God will give you a spiritual family when you seek Him. When you start living for Him and in relationship with Him, He will reveal your spiritual family to you and put those people in place in your life. He will give you mentors who lead by example and spiritual brothers and sisters who invest in your life to help you grow in faith. And then, in turn, you will also help sisters and brothers rise up and evolve in their faith. He may give you spiritual sons and daughters to mentor along their journeys as well. All of this is part of becoming who God created you to be.
Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11 NIV