David writes in Psalm Chapter 68, verse 6 — God sets the lonely in families.
Family, the building block of human society, was God’s design. He created it and throughout the Old and New Testament He makes His intentions known. Since the beginning God was as interested in the family unit as he was in the individual.
We see this in Genesis Chapter 6, verse 18 where God not only saves Noah in the flood but his entire family. The same is true for us today. God cares about us as individuals but even more so — what are our relationships like with our family and with others?
Church is often likened to a family. Why? Because it reflects the heart of God — connection, relationship, love, empathy. It is an arrangement of differing individuals who could have been wandering around all on their own, yet God, in all His goodness and kindness, places us in families to teach us, not only how to get along and work together, but also to bring happiness, joy, comfort and support.
We recently went on a family holiday to South Australia and visited the Beerenberg Farm. We love their jams and sauces, so it was good to be able to go and see it all first hand. Whilst we were there, we spoke with some of the staff and heard how from humble beginnings they’ve grown their family business and now export to over 23 countries. I walked away from this experience so enriched and empowered by their story.
There is such strength to a healthy functioning, long standing, committed family unit. And despite economic downturn and a fair share of problems, they maintain true to their ethos and are still supported to this day by the same multi-generational fruit and vegetable partnerships.
In a way, it’s like they haven’t forgotten the ingredient which brought them success in the first place. And they are either very clever at marketing or they have just very clearly defined who they are and they haven’t wavered from it. They remain very clearly proud of the fact that their business is family run.
A reflection of the heart of God
“Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor or human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” (John Chapter 1, verses 12-13)
In saying yes to Jesus, we are a new creation and become sons and daughters of the faith. We are adopted into God’s family (Romans Chapter 8, verse 15). The term family takes on more of a spiritual meaning than a physical one. It also reflects the heart of God and provides a great template or framework for societal relationships.
Warm respect, committed love, fierce loyalty
In the same way, we should become eager to protect and guard our relationships within our family and with others. The enemy would love nothing more than to create a wedge between husband and wife, amongst siblings or friendships. Philip F. Reindeers encourages in his devotional titled, Seeking God’s Face — to pray that relationships in our families and with others are marked by warm respect, committed love and fierce loyalty.
This is a good example for all of our relationships — whether in our immediate physical family, church family, workplaces, team environments or when we walk by complete strangers. Most people amid their routine, mundane work day would love nothing more than go to work and put in a good effort knowing that they are respected, loved and won’t get thrown under the bus by a colleague termed ‘friend.’
Sense of belonging
In the same way that we saw such strength in the Beerenberg Story, we should continue to see such strength in our physical, and most importantly, our ‘spiritual’ family today. Where people grow in maturity, knowledge of God, where healthy relationships are formed and developed. Where for someone who has had feelings of isolation and loneliness that these would become a distant memory. And instead such feelings would be replaced with a sense of belonging and family. This is where family truly does become the building block of human society.
Elise Pappas is a Pastor and together with her husband pastor a church on the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. They have a son, Jonathan and a daughter, Sophie. Elise is a former clinical drug trial research coordinator and business owner. She writes about life and ministry experiences.