Spiritual fathering, mothering, brothering and sistering in the church of Jesus
Like the first church, we are to form church communities based on relationships, in a living partnership of like-minded hearts.
One of the most significant words from the Holy Spirit today is that God, the Father, will "adopt the lost generation". Hundreds of thousands of young men and women who have come from broken families, often living on the streets, involved in begging, vice and crime, will find new birth in Jesus and be brought by God into His family. We are seeing this prophecy fulfilled more and more. Much happened during the 1980s and 1990s. Much more is happening in this new century. God really is going to "adopt the lost generation"!
These rootless wanderers are found in city upon city throughout the world. They are prepared by the Holy Spirit to hear the good news. They are aware of the corrupting power of evil. They long to know that God loves them and will forgive them. They want to receive Jesus as Saviour and to be baptised in water and in the Spirit. As a powerful army for Jesus, they will bring the gospel to others of this "lost generation".
Christians must identify with them in the humanity of Jesus. He was ever "the friend of sinners", [Matt 11:19] loving "the poor and outcasts". [Luke 4:18] [Luke 14:13]
The way Jesus saw "family"
Jesus said that He came to bring division and not peace: "A man's foes will be those of his own household". [Matt 10:36] The experience of countless Christians is that members of their natural family have rejected them and even harmed them because they have been born again and baptised. Jesus said that the true family was God's family. When His own mother and brothers came to Him, He said that His mother, brothers and sisters were "those who do the will of God". [Matt 12:46-50]
The apostle Paul speaks of being a father to such people as Timothy, (his "child in the faith") [1 Tim 1:2]
and Onesimus ("whose father I have become"). [Philem 10]
God wants us to recognise fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters in His family. The New Testament speaks of "brotherly love" and "brotherhood". [Heb 13:1] [1 Pet 2:17] John says that the only ones who "have passed out of death into life" are those who "love the brethren". [1 Jn 3:14] The only true church of Jesus is a brotherhood, a family!
The great promise of Jesus
Those who "leave houses or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel" Jesus said would receive "a hundredfold". And this would be received "now, at this time". This hundredfold would be in "houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands". [Mark 10:29,30]
Those who lose natural relationships will gain bigger and better relationships within His family, the church!
And so the church expresses the "New Creation" family. These "family" relationships mean spending time together, being joined heart to heart.
Brothering and sistering
In the church of Jesus, we must all function in a "brothering" or "sistering" ministry. Not only must we be loyal, we must be lifegiving too; caring and sharing, encouraging and honouring, feeling a joy in our brother or sister. Devotion and holy pride bond us to one another. This is the family oneness, for which Jesus prayed, the "oneness of heart and soul" which marked the first Christians. [Acts 4:32]
Fathering and mothering
Some of us will have "fathering" and "mothering" ministries, parenting the new "babes in Christ" and those young in the Lord. As "fathers" and "mothers" we will gather there "families" around us. [1 Thess 2:11] [1 Cor 4:15]
"Fathers" and "mothers", in particular, need patience with spiritual "children" through many trials and falls. Our patient love must win back the straying new "babes". This fatherly, motherly love perseveres and wins! This should be normal in local churches, with elders leading the way in "fathering" with other men and women joining them in this New Testament ministry. "Fathering" and "mothering" can also be a much-needed ministry towards leaders. Every church needs a network of "fathers" and "mothers".
Father and mother hunger
With so many marriage and family breakdowns, today's young people long for strong, older people whom they can follow and who will always be there. But in the church, father and mother (or brother and sister) hunger is normal for everyone. Our new birth in Jesus causes us to need these family relationships.
Let's make the church family real. Find your brothers! Find your sisters! Find your father or mother! You are a brother, a sister, a father, a mother to others. Find your sons and daughters!
Let's be God's household, God's family!