The most common metaphor for Christian community is “family” and “household” (Rom. 12:10; Gal. 6:10; Eph. 2:19; 1 Peter 4:17). It dawned on me that we rarely apply this to one’s marriage and family. I curiously wondered why we fail to act in families as a community of Christians when it seems so obvious that this is where it is practiced and refined and best illustrated.
Pastors are to manage the church in the same way they manage their home (1 Tim. 3:5-6). We are to practice gospel community in our families with at least as much intentionality as we do among fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.
THREE WAYS WE PRACTICE GOSPEL COMMUNITY IN OUR FAMILIES
As a family, we share a unifying belief in the gospel and we express this belief communally as we teach and admonish one another (Col. 3:16) and speak to one another in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs (Eph. 5:19).
We also share in one another’s burdens by carrying them for other members of the family (Gal. 6:2) and encouraging one another (1 Thes. 5:11; Heb. 3:13). We express the gospel vividly by relieving the pain for other family members especially when they don’t deserve it.
We share in physical needs of other family members—food, money, and housing. We are devoted to each other in brotherly love (Rom. 12:10), being hospitable (1 Peter 4:9) and doing good for others (Gal. 6:10).
Jesus took the form of a servant and made Himself nothing. He did not act on His own needs but rather suffered to serve others the greatest gift of an atoning sacrifice for our sins (Phil. 2:5-8).
We are likewise admonished to serve one another for the other person’s good and not our own (Rom. 15:1-2) with a brotherly love (Rom. 12:10; 13:8; Heb 13:1; 1 Peter 1:22).
A family serves one another through unconditional love, forgiving one another (Matt. 5:23-24; Eph. 4:2; Col. 3:13) and holding each other accountable to walk in harmony with the gospel (Rom. 15:4; Eph. 4:25; James 5:16).
In the context of a family, members should seek to outdo one another in showing honor. We preach this in the context of members of the family of God but often fail to practice it in our own homes.
We affirm one another’s value in Christ by accepting them as Christ accepts us (Rom. 15:7), showing concern for them (1 Cor. 12:25) and demonstrating true humility (1 Peter 5:5). Even in a family we have varying degrees of skills and abilities and imperfections. Our value is in Christ’s acceptance of us in spite of our failures. Our family community understands this and affirms this in the daily life with one another.
Family members affirm one another through demonstrative affection. This seems natural for family members to greet one another with a “holy kiss” (Rom. 16:16; 1 Cor. 16:20; 2 Cor 13:12) but many homes are devoid of affection, kindness and compassion (Eph. 4:32). This practice can be nurtured and developed and is not acceptable to be categorized as a cultural problem (1 Thes. 3:12).
Finally, family members affirm the strengths, abilities and gifts of one another. The opposite of this is criticizing one another (James 5:9) rather than honoring one another above ourselves (Rom. 12:10).
Continue to Practice Gospel Community
Practicing gospel community in our homes gives honor to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Pastor’s families lead the way a church and other families function in community. Our families are communities. We are not isolated individuals who share a common house and name. We are conceived in community, born into a community and nurtured through a community of family members.
We honor God as we die to self and humbly share, serve and affirm the members of our family community.