I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named.   (Ephesians 3:14,15)

So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.   (Galatians 6:10)

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household,   (Ephesians 2:19)

but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.   (1 Timothy 3:15)

It’s very apparent from the New Testament writings that one of the aspects of the Church of Jesus Christ is that we are a family.  This is a fact that most Christians would agree with in theory (and doctrine) but how often is it practiced?

The Importance of God’s Family

Jesus Christ clearly declared the priority and importance of God’s family:

Another of the disciples said to Him, “Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.” But Jesus *said to him, “Follow Me, and allow the dead to bury their own dead.” (Matthew 8:22,23)

“Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.(Luke 14:20)

“If anyone comes to Me, and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be My disciple.”  (Luke 14:26)

“For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”  (Matthew 22:30)

Someone said to Him, “Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You.” But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?” And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, “Behold My mother and My brothers! “For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:47-50)

Apparently Jesus has a totally different paradigm for family than we do.  Could it be that’s because he comes from a totally different realm?  His values are totally different than our’s because he only has one thing in view… God’s eternal purpose!  You think maybe we all need a totally different viewpoint?  Ya think?

God has his own family and that family is unlike any earthly family that has ever existed.  Thank God for that!  I said in the last post that in order for us to experience authentic brotherhood and sisterhood we needed to experience authentic family.  I’m, of course, speaking of the spiritual family of God.

But What Does it Look Like?

I have experienced this kind of family/body life myself for several years.  I do not claim to be an expert on it, but I can say that it is the most glorious (and also frustrating) experience you will ever have!  It takes a huge amount of embracing the work and way of the cross in your own life to live this way.  I always tell believers that if they are not getting on each others’ nerves and offending one another, then they are not yet close enough to one another!  Love and forgiveness will need to be applied constantly.  It will get very bloody at times, but if you go to the cross and let your own desires and agendas die, then his life will begin to be displayed.

So what does it look like?  At times it will look like an awful mess!  At other times it will look a lot like Jesus Christ Himself!  But I will tell you that there is nothing else on this planet that even comes close to beholding Christ through the members of his Body!

I have asked a few sisters and brothers to share their own experiences.  These are all saints who have lived in “families” where Christ is the center and the head and everyone involved wants his family.  A lot!

My experience with brotherhood in Christ has been as close to watching Jesus with His disciples as I could imagine. As I have wondered what it looks like to really bear our daily cross in practical ways, I simply have to look to the brothers I have grown together with to see how Christ moves in each of their lives. Christ is answering the question right in front of me through each of them! Brothers have humbled themselves to restore a relationship, truly forgiven each other in love, sacrificed their own needs to provide for others, sought the counsel of others to make decisions, encouraged each other, confronted each other, and relentlessly pursued Christ together. In short, the brothers have (and continue to) teach me exactly what it means to live by Christ’s life!  

Mark Lake – Florida           blog: http://xpchrist.wordpress.com

Understanding who you are in Christ is the heartbeat of Christ’s Body.  It is the thing that allows you to function and express Him. Often, we don’t know who we are.  We do not understand our own expression. We do not understand how to function.  This is where brothers and sisters become absolutely vital!  Without the brothers and sisters constantly reminding me who I am, via notes, voicemails, emails, a dinner out or lipstick words on my mirror, I would not know how to walk in truth. I would not recognize the lies and I would not be free to be me.  The actual me. The me created before the foundations of the world were spoke into being.  I don’t remember who I was before them.  My encouragement to each of us – speak life and truth to each other.  Speak it loud and often.

Heather Proctor – Tennessee      blog: http://www.heatherproctor.net

Being a part of a brotherhood is unlike anything I have been a part of. The brotherhood is a place where men can creatively function as the male gender in Christ. We share the Lord’s Life from the unique perspective that men have. We love the sisters deeply. We do our part to defend and live the Expression of Christ together and with the sisters. We bear each other’s burdens together. We have been one since before time. It is a glorious discovery as we pursue this oneness together. And specifically, to me, I have found a place of acceptance for the man I am in Christ. I am encouraged to function mightily in the gifts The Lord has given me by the brotherhood. This is a place unlike any other place on earth.

Mark Champion – Tennessee    blog: http://www.marklchampion.com/

Brotherhood is a fundamentally crucial aspect in sharing this “life” together. Being a part of a brotherhood has helped me to be washed from lies and corruption, the pressure and deceit that the world hurls in such a brutal way. I have become more confident in my true identity. I have experienced freedom spending time with these men of Christ. I have seen Him so clearly in the compassion, care, strength and loyalty of my brothers. I have come to know a part of the bride of Christ in this marriage of men we call brothers.

Eric Spohn – Oklahoma

Sisterhood has been one of the most beautiful experiences I’ve had in body life. The love and care for one another that is expressed during our bi-weekly meetings as sisters is truly incredible. We are able to share the Lord with one another, plan sister outings and surprises for the brothers, and discuss personal matters in a safe environment without pretense yet so rich in love. We experience the love of our Lord through encouragement expressed to one another spontaneously during our sisters meetings. There is a bond that is built among us that carries over into the community life that we share with the rest of the saints during times of corporate meeting.

Nischelle Reagan – Texas

When I think of what it means to be a part of a brotherhood or sisterhood, I think of the word *connection*. This connection is truly a mystery. It is a connection that is every bit as profound as skin and nerves. For years I read a passage from scripture that didn’t seem real to me:

“And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.” ( 1 Cor. 12:26-27)

This passage used to bring a lot of guilt because I knew it was describing something that was not true of me. It seemed to describe the way an actual body like my human body worked. This was a state of being with others that I knew nothing about.

After being built together with a community of brothers and sisters for the last couple of years, this passage makes perfect sense now. A few weeks ago, I had one of the most difficult weeks of my life. I can only describe it as deep, spirit level, suffering. At the time, I had no idea why I was suffering. I just was. The following week, I had a conversation with a sister in the body who told me about her previous week. It was a very difficult week for her as well. One of the worst. When she shared this with me, I knew why I was in deep anguish the previous week. I was suffering with her in spirit, even though my mind was not aware of the details! There truly is a deep & beautiful mystery in being built together in brotherhood and sisterhood. Brothers and sisters suffer with one another. A glorious *connection* indeed.

Jamal Jivanjee – Tennessee             blog: http://www.jamaljivanjee.com