Our devotion should bring us close enough to help one another and lift one another up, both now and in eternity. Our Master lived to bring us together. He wanted us in His Father’s family, serving and sacrificing toward that end. “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mk. 10:45). Consequently, making every effort to grow close as a family and to help one another as a family remains an integral part of the family relationship Jesus expects of us. Drawing away from the Christian family signals a drawing away from the Father and the Son. For this reason, the author of Hebrews said, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:24-25). Thus, when Jesus’ disciples interact, it should always include a mindset ready both to help each other become more like our Father and to enjoy the fellowship created by how much like our Father we are.
However, there is another aspect to this relationship that is essential. Our devotion to our Savior should bring us close enough to talk about the spiritual needs of individuals directly and lovingly. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, his love for them demanded that he address their problems. He spoke from apostolic authority, yes, but he also spoke from the genuine love of a man who had given time and attention to these people to help them toward heaven; and he saw that hope in jeopardy.
Therefore, with a heart for God, for souls, and or family, the apostle wrote of the dangers of sin and of accepting sin (1 Cor. 5:1-3). He explained the purity of his motives forthrightly and passionately (1 Cor. 5:4-5). He warned them of the folly of their behavior and reminded them of the cost Christ paid for them to remove such folly (1 Cor. 5:6-7). He was, essentially, reenforcing the culture of the Father’s family–a culture that abhors sin but loves souls, a culture committed to the spiritual well-being of every last individual in the family, a culture willing to confront trespasses in order to restore a relationship.
A relationship of this depth requires a commitment and love of great depth as well. It demands a willingness to take on additional responsibilities because someone else in the family has failed in his own responsibilities. It takes a spiritual mindset dedicated to a spiritual family. “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:1-2).
Such familial love may indeed take an emotional toll on the spirit when someone from the family walks away to prodigality, but the love of family remains strong until the end, standing strong, praying fervently, and serving compassionately in the hopes that he will one day come back home. Thus, even when a brother strays, that family tie should, through spiritual means, remain such as to draw him back to the Father. “But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us…. Yet do not count him as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother” (2 Th. 3:6, 15). Therefore, a church family sticks together–not to cover up one another’s faults, but to help one another overcome them.
In God’s family, there is a family resemblance. And it should be a notable resemblance. Oh, people will not know we are brothers and sisters because we have the same nose or eyes. They will know we are brothers and sisters because we have the same hearts and the same walk. “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13:34-35). The relationship we should have with Jesus should be so intimate and trusting so that the relationship we have with one another can become the same. That is what will truly make it a family relationship.