The desire for family is a need rooted deep in every human heart. It’s something we gravitate toward almost unconsciously and from a very young age. I believe it’s so important to us because it is so important to the One in whose image we’re created!
Think about this: our very reason for existing—as a species, as a Body of Christ—is because God desired a family. He desired it, desired us so much that he gave His only son in sacrifice to redeem us from death. Reflecting that deeper spirituality, human beings long for the depth of relationship that comes from family—which is why if we don’t find it in our birth family, we often seek it in different ways.
Tight spiritual circles, interest groups, gangs, sports teams, tribes, cliques—they all have something in common: they replicate the acceptance and belonging of family. Some do it in healthy ways, others are far from it, but roughly speaking all exist to meet the same basic need: we want to be loved, we want to belong.
What a blessing to know that regardless of the status of our earthly family, we have a heavenly one waiting to welcome us with open arms. With God as the Father and fellow Christians as our brothers and sisters, we have the promise of an eternal family that shares the same love, the same spirit, the same brother in Jesus and the same glorious future.
If you too are a follower of Jesus, I am so happy to call you family. And I am so thrilled that one day we will all be dining at the same table of our glorious Father and our wonderful Brother, and that we will be one.
What is Family?
Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines family as “the basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents rearing their children; also any of various social units differing from but regarded as equivalent to the traditional family.”
The family unit is very important to God. Like marriage, familyhood parallels important spiritual realities. The Body of Christ is a family, and the healthy family unit should reflect the way of God and Jesus with the Church. In the time of the biblical accounts, society was structured around the family, which was usually a closely-knit and multigenerational conglomerate where everyone looked after everyone else.
In our society, where independence and making one’s one way are highly valued and it’s not at all uncommon for families to live across the country or even on separate continents from one another, there’s often a loss of close familial ties. It’s important that we strive even harder to maintain those close bonds so we don’t forsake or miss out on the powerful spiritual and moral lessons and blessings than can be gleaned from the strong and committed family structure.
What Does the Bible Say About Family?
Ephesians 6:1 – Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right.
Proverbs 11:29 – Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind, and the fool will be servant to the wise.
Ephesians 6:4 – Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.
How Can I Strengthen My Family Ties?
Family love in the Greco-Roman world was often referred to by the word storgē. This is the kind of love Christians are urged to have for one another, but in order to make family a priority, we have to apply a great deal of agapelove as well—putting their needs before our own. For this reason, family-orientation in our attitude requires a conscious reaching out and effort to foster relationships, heal hurts, and maintain contact, particularly if distance separates us.
We should also be mindful to keep God in the mix. Christian parents model the Jesus-following life to their children not just by sending them to Sunday School, but by inviting God into the midst of family matters with prayer, praise, etc. God’s love is the glue that binds the family together.
Children are told to: Respect, honor, and heed their parents, learning from their wisdom. Never to curse or strike them.
Parents are told to: Train up, care for, and instruct their children. Never to taunt or provoke them for a reaction.
Some other things we need to be focused on in order to strengthen family ties are:
- Love. The family must be rooted and grounded in the love of God and Jesus. Love is the greatest witness, the most important teacher, and the thing that everyone craves most from an early age. The lack of love is so harmful it can distort a child’s formative years and negatively impact the entire rest of their life. Conversely, a family built on an outpouring of godly love will be supernaturally strengthened from the inside out and be much better able to support one another and be a greater blessing to those they come into contact with.
- Forgiveness. The closer we are to people, the more we open ourselves up to be hurt by them. There isn’t a family on earth that hasn’t had some kind of hurt, misunderstanding or other offense in their midst. Willingness to reconcile and forgive is an imperative part to ensuring the wholeness of the family unit.
- Humility. This goes for parents, children, and all other members of the family unit. Just as children are encouraged to confess to their mistakes and own up to them, parents should not be afraid to admit to their children when they make a mistake and ask for their forgiveness, too. This kind of sincere two-way communication from both parents and children fosters a deeper trust and understanding of one another.
- Honesty. Building a trustworthy foundation of honesty within the family is critical to its success and endurance in the long run. This requires each person to bring forward their struggles, the others to love and to listen empathically, and then the family to tackle problems as a team.
- Patience. Every person in the family unit will have their own unique struggles and trials to endure. Having patience with others when they’re facing these challenges and encouraging and supporting rather than becoming aggravated helps keep the family unit tight and hearts tender toward one another.
Family ties are complex and many times in a state of flux. As children grow and mature, there are often occasions where old issues flush up to the surface and must be dealt with. Parents aging, siblings taking different life roads, new children/grandchildren/nieces/nephews/cousins/etc. coming into the mix, all influence the dynamic. When we make love and godliness the compass by which we chart our course together, the family unit has a much better chance of thriving.
What steps can you take to prioritize your family life this week?