Tuesday, October 27, 2015

We Are the Family of God

Part 1 of We Are the Church

Text: Ephesians 2:19

You can listen to this sermon here.

“So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God” (Eph. 2:19). 

What's a Metaphor?

In the NT, there are several metaphors for the church. A metaphor is “a word or phrase for one thing that is used to refer to another thing in order to show or suggest that they are similar” [1] (e.g., “The exam was a piece of cake.”) In this series, we’re going to examine four metaphors for the church. The church is (1) the family of God, (2) the temple of the Holy Spirit, (3) the bride of Christ, and (4) the body of Christ. In the apostle Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, all four of these church metaphors are found (see 2:18-22; 4:11-16; 5:25-27).

The Church Is Not a Place 

We often say, “I’m going to the church,” but the church is not a place; it’s a group of people. In the NT, the Greek word that’s translated “church” is ekklesia, which literally means “assembly,” or “gathering.” A church building is where a church meets. [2]

When we think of the church as a building, there is the danger that Christianity becomes compartmentalized. When Christianity is compartmentalized, we “look at Sunday as the totality of the Church experience.” [3] But wherever we go, we are the church. Wherever we go, we are to take the love of Christ with us.

One Family

Paul writes that the Ephesian believers (i.e., the church at Ephesus) are “members of the household of God” (2:19). Why is the church called the family of God?

God is our Father, and we are brothers and sisters.

We find the family metaphor throughout Ephesians:

  • God “predestined us for adoption as sons [and daughters] through Jesus Christ” (1:5). 
  • “Through [Jesus] we both [Jews and Gentiles] have access in one Spirit to the Father” (2:18). 
  • We are united because we all have “one God and Father” (4:6). 
  • Paul refers to other believers as “brothers” (6:23). 

Being called members of God’s family would give the Ephesians (mostly Gentiles) a sense of belonging.

Family Likeness

Paul writes, “Be imitators of God, as beloved children” (5:1). We are God’s “beloved children.” The Greek word for “beloved” (agapetos) was often used to describe an only child. God has millions of sons and daughters, but he is able to extend his love to each of his children as if he or she was his only child.

As children of God, we are to imitate him.

How do we imitate our heavenly Father? We are to be people of love. If it were not for God’s love (i.e., the giving of Christ for us), we would not be his children.

Family Responsibilities

In Paul’s first letter to Timothy, he writes, “If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim. 5:8). We all know that we have the responsibility of caring for our family members. As Christians, we also have the responsibility of caring for our church family.

As brothers and sisters in God’s family, we have the responsibility to care for one another. 

In his letter to the Galatians, Paul writes, “As we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). How can we care for one another? There are many ways: (1) pray for one another (instead of gossiping); (2) offer to help others (e.g., a widow) with a need; (3) invite people into your home.

Not Just Individuals

A church is not to be just a group of individuals; it’s a family. God is our Father, and we are brothers and sisters. When we leave our church building, we shouldn’t forget about each other until the following Sunday. We have a responsibility to care for one another throughout the week. 

[1] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/metaphor
[2] In the NT, “church” can refer to either a local church or the universal church (i.e., all believers throughout the world).
[3] Carl Jones, “When We Think of the Church as a Building,” http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/church/when-we-think-church-building

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