Church is family

Darius Lee // May 3, 2018, 4:10 pm

Church is family

A couple of years ago, I posted my thoughts online on the issue of how a “family” is defined. I explained that there were essentially two views of “family” competing in the modern world.

There is the classical view of family based on a biological connection between a father, a mother and their children. Then there is the “modern” view of family as based on an emotional union between committed people.

I argued that, biologically, anthropologically and sociologically, the first definition of “family” should be preferred, as it upholds the right of every child to be raised by a father and a mother. (Adoption and its place in the Gospel are separate issues, which are outside the present scope of this article.)

In discussing this topic with a fellow brother-in-Christ at our regular lunch meet-up, I explained to him how this was consistent with what the Bible taught about marriage and family.

He asked what it meant when the Bible describes the church as “family”, pointing to passages such as Matthew 12:50 where Jesus said, “whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother”.

“It’s a metaphor,” I replied. “A metaphor that draws from the understanding of the natural family unit.”
The answer I gave to my friend lingered on in my mind over the next few days. There was something quite unsatisfactory about the idea that “family” is only a “metaphor” in the context of church.

And then the Lord revealed the answer to me.


How do you know if someone is your biological brother or sister? Or your biological parent?
With modern medical technology, we are able to ascertain through DNA tests if people are flesh-and-blood relations, for example, if a child was fathered by a particular man, or if two people are indeed biological siblings.

And how do we know if someone is a fellow brother or sister in Christ? How do we know if God is our Father?

The answer: Through the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ sustains us. His DNA unite us, binds us, and flows through us.

In Holy Communion, Christians everywhere recall that, on night He was betrayed, our Lord Jesus took bread, and when He had given thanks, broke it and said: “This is my body, given for you; do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way, after supper He took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.”

By the breaking of His body and the shedding of His blood, and by His death and resurrection, the Lord has delivered us from our sins.

Paul tells us, “whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26)

Jesus Christ sustains us. His DNA unite us, binds us, and flows through us.


There is also another sense in which the church is related by flesh and blood with Jesus.

When God created the first woman Eve, He put the man Adam into a deep sleep and formed her out of the man’s rib. As a result, he could say of her, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” (Genesis 2:23)

Jesus has been described as the Second Adam (Romans 5:12-21; 1 Corinthians 15:45).

In the same way, Jesus was put into a deep “sleep” in the grave and out of His sacrifice God formed the church. The church – the fellowship of believers – is the Body of Christ (Ephesians 5:22-33). It is truly bone of His bones and flesh of His flesh.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, you and I are truly related by flesh and blood. We are family.