The Sabbath of July 28th (in fact, the entire week-end) was very memorable, with fun-filled activities that enriched the fellowship of the brethren. A heart-felt thanks to the organizers who laboured with love to make it all possible. It was a true example of what it means to be a spiritual family belonging to God.

The Human and the Church Family

The Bible teaches us to call God “our Father” (Matthew 6:9) and those who have the Spirit of Christ are called the children of God (1 John 3:1). These are just two of the many scriptural texts that liken the human family to the Church family. In referring to Christ and the Church, Heb 2:11 says “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”.

In Ephesians 5, God defines the rules for governing the conduct and relationship within the Church family. After describing the rules and governing relationship in the human family, the apostle Paul says in verses:32-33 says: “This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church. 33 Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband”.

Authority in the Church?

The point could be made that since Christ is the Head of the Church and all believers are equal before Christ, there is no place for human authority in the Church. But this view ignores the human structure of authority instituted by Christ as reported in Ephesians 4. There the apostle Paul tells us “And He [Christ] Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…”

In clarifying the responsibilities of these leaders, the Apostle Peter says in 1 Peter 5:1-7, “The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed: 2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; 4 and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away. 5 Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.” 6 Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you (NKJV).

The First Church

In the Bible, the first Church was the home. The head of the home not only functioned as husband and father but also as a priest to his family. In the Book of Job, God gives the example of a family in the patriarchal age, to show us how the family functioned as a Church. (Job 1:1-5). After God constituted Israel as a nation, the church transitioned from a home to a community assembly.

In Numbers 11:14, when Moses became overworked in his leadership responsibilities, he told the Lord, “I am not able to carry all these people alone, the burden is too heavy for me”. God instructed Moses to choose seventy of the elders of Israel to assist him, and God anointed these elders with the same Spirit he gave to Moses (Numbers 11:16-17).Just as “elders” were appointed to leadership in ‘Old Testament Israel’ and anointed with the Spirit of God, even so in the New Testament “elders” are appointed based on distinct qualifications and anointed with the Holy Spirit. Paul says to Titus “For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you — 6 if a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination. 7 For a bishop must be blameless, as a steward of God, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, 8 but hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober-minded, just, holy, self-controlled, 9 holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict.

God’s Family

God’s family is a family of love, compassion, longsuffering, kindness, gentleness, patience, forgiveness and peace. Psalm 133:1-3 states “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious oil upon the head, coming down upon the beard, {even} Aaron’s beard, coming down upon the edge of his robes. It is like the dew of Hermon coming down upon the mountains of Zion; for there the LORD commanded the blessing– life forever.”

Truly, we are thankful and extraordinarily blessed to be part of the family of God and that was abundantly demonstrated with our spirit-filled weekend of extended fellowship.