It’s been said that blood is thicker than water. This axiom is often quoted to explain altruistic behaviour displayed among blood siblings. I have two young children and it’s amazing to see the affection displayed in their interactions. I am often told by friends and neighbours how my five year old son protects and defends his three year old sister. At the playground you would often hear statements like “let my sister have a turn”, “give it back to my sister”, “why did you push my sister?” among others.
Blood indeed, is thicker than water!
Because of this, Jesus’ words in Mark 3:31-35, comes as a surprise to anyone who has witnessed the truth in the axiom “blood is thicker water.” Mark records that “Jesus’ mother and brothers came standing outside and they sent to him and called him”, to which He replied, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, He said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.” In this passage, Jesus redefines true Kingdom family ties, He elevates brotherhood in Christ above earthly blood ties. This indicates believers in Christ have more in common among themselves, than with unbelieving biological relatives. That is jaw dropping! Isn’t it? It in fact confounds natural wisdom and order. If this is what Jesus thinks about family and relationships, what are the implications for the Christian?
You cannot Treat the Church Casually.
Just as the household is the setting within which a ‘natural’ family lives out its life, the church is the setting where the family of God lives out its life. The church is supposed to be made up of people who have been regenerated by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, repented of their sins, have put their faith in Christ alone for the salvation of their souls and they have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the Kingdom of God. It is the home of Christians. In Acts 2:42-46, Luke recounts how the early church lived its life; a model church to emulate:
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many Wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts.
In this passage there are four characteristics that must accompany the family of God – the church and Christians.
1. Devotion To Teaching of The Word and Fellowship
One of the main reasons we gather as believers is to hear the word of God. The apostles had one message; it was the message of what Jesus Christ had done. So when the Pharisees summoned and warned them not to preach in Jesus’ name, their response was, “we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:20). There is only one message and it is a message about Christ, not about us!
The believers met regularly to pray. Paul admonished we should pray without ceasing. Jesus said we have to pray always without losing heart. James said the prayer of a righteous person has great power (1Thessalonians 5:17, Luke 18:1, James 5:16). Martin Luther remarked “Prayer is a strong wall and fortress for the church; it is a godly Christian’s weapon”
There was a genuine care for one another, later on in Acts 4:34 we read that “there was not a needy person among them…” They cared for each other. They were what Cain refused to be to Abel; each other’s keeper. Throughout the New Testament, loving one another characterised the first century church. Their hospitality was extensive. Beyond meeting as a congregation, they ate meals together in each other’s homes. This opens up the lives of believers to each other. In such an environment, individualism and selfishness is done away with and brethren get into each other’s lives.
4: Regular Church Attendance
Regular church attendance is a necessary part of the Christian life and we see that in the life of the early Christians; it is the only way to grow together. The Christian who attends church irregularly is living in disobedience to the bible. The writer of Hebrews says it so well. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”(Hebrews10:24-25).
This is how real family members live together in the context of the church. As you look at your church or your involvement in it, is this what you see? I am afraid too often our concept of Church is completely different from what Jesus thinks of the church. Our motive for attending has nothing to do with worshipping God or fellowshipping with other believers. We have treated the church casually, just as we would any other social club. But Jesus sees the church as His family, as His bride as a matter of fact. What about you?
The True Purpose of the Church
Paul in Ephesians 3:10 tells us the true purpose of the church, he says “So that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”
The church is an outlet for showcasing the manifold wisdom of God. When people see the church they must see a compelling community of saints, who through their lives, witness to a God who saves rebels and turn them into sons and daughters who love one another. What makes the church compelling is neither the size of its buildings nor the glamour of its preachers. What makes it compelling is when we love one another as we follow King Jesus. He told them “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
Yes, it is true that blood is thicker than water. And since we have been purchased by the blood of Christ, we confidently proclaim Christ’s blood is thicker than any natural blood ties.
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelations 7:9-10).