A family is defined by the relationships that exist within it. Father, mother and children are related physically and function as a unit. But although the initial relationships of marriage and birth brought each member into the family relationship, the successful functioning of this family unit is dependent on things such as love, submission, and obedience. In other words, even in a natural family, we are primarily concerned with those elements that make the family function properly, and make it a joy to be a part of. What is there to admire in a family in which the father and son do not speak to each other? It is obvious that a factual (legal) relationship has very little meaning, and certainly no fulfillment. While this is true in the natural family, it is even more true in the spiritual family.
In the household of God, we are members one of another (Ephesians 4:25, 1 Corinthians 12:25). The connection, as we have already stated, is because we have partaken of the same life from the Father. This forms the basis of our relationship, so that we speak of each other as "brother" and "sister." Brothers and sisters dwell in the same household and are under the rule of the Father. In the natural family, the father guides all the members according to their own age and maturity. If there are difficulties between sons, he does not let the matter go on, but deals with the problem. If the problem is not dealt with, it hinders the fellowship and functioning of the family. Suppertime is no longer a joy to look forward to, but something to be endured in silence.
Notice that the focus is on the father. He is the solution to all the problems of the children. He is wise, understanding, and stable. The children are immature, unstable, and in need of discipline and training. The father guides that training. If we can see the similarities between the natural family and the spiritual family, it can give us understanding in where our attention must be. Our eyes must be focused on our Father. We must be attached to Christ our Head. As we receive direction and respond with loving obedience, we will find our relationships with our brothers and sisters to be rich and fulfilling. We will bring honor to our Father as we represent His name. What a privilege, and yet what a responsibility!
The purpose that God has in mind for His spiritual family is rich and full. But His purpose can only be fulfilled if every relationship is kept in order. The very definition of a relationship implies two parties. Wrong attitudes or actions by either party in the relationship can stop its proper functioning. In the natural family, a wise and watchful father will correct every wrong attitude and require obedience to his commands. He will do this out of loving care for the children. As they obey the father, they will find their relationships with one another to be enjoyable. Each member will benefit from interaction with the other members.
In the spiritual family, this is even more true, because God has designed His family in such a way that His grace flows through each member as He chooses. If the relationship between members is broken for some reason, they cannot partake of the grace flowing from God.
The solution in the spiritual family is the same as in the natural family. Each member must obey the Father. Of course, the children say their problem is not with the Father, but with their brother or sister. But what did the Father say to do about it? Perhaps he told them to humble themselves, to go to their brother or sister and say they were sorry. Did they do that? "No, because I was not wrong. He wronged me first. He needs to come to me, and then I will say I am sorry also." If the child does not obey his father, with whom is the real problem? Is it not with the father? So it is in God's family.
When we have a problem for which there seems to be no solution, it is always with God. God has told us what to do about it, but we don't want to do what He says. Until we do, we are not going anywhere, and things are bound to get worse. We hurt not only ourselves, but also our brothers and sisters. The answer is always the same. "Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God..." Obey what He is speaking, leaving all results in His hands. So often, we are afraid that our brother or sister is going to get away with something they shouldn't. But isn't that the responsibility of the Father? Who can run from God? Who can hide anything from Him? How often our foolish thinking gets in the way! Is anything too hard for God? Can He take care of each child? Is He God? Does He know what He is doing?
For a proper working in God's family, there must be a solid foundation in our hearts, knowing that each member is dealing with God and that He will take care of our brothers and sisters. When that is clear, and we are obedient to Him, our relationships with each other will be right, and the full mind of God can be fulfilled in His family.
There are many passages of scripture that bring out the truth of what we are saying, but before going on, consider just two of them. Ephesians 4:25-32 and Colossians 3:12-17 are particularly applicable. Notice that the basis of Paul's instruction is that "we are members of one another." If the Holy Spirit could break that one truth deep into our hearts, it would solve many of our problems and open the door for His grace to flow to us. In Christ, we are one. Glory! We are one because we have one Father and have partaken of one life. We are called to preserve the unity that God has made.
If we would be absolute in this one area, it would strike an ax to the root of so much that brings discredit on the name of our heavenly Father. How can we say that we are one in reality, and not conduct ourselves in the manner spoken of in these two passages of scripture? If we are in relationship with our Father, these passages describe what we will do. If we cannot say that our conduct is described here, then how can we say we are in a proper relationship with our Father?
Surely it is of no value to hide behind some "positional" doctrine that has no real expression. Fulfillment is in real love relationships. God does not deal in theory, but in reality. We are the ones that try to make up theoretical doctrines to hide behind when we do not see reality in relationships. We do this to our own destruction.
Brethren, let us be absolute with God in this area of relationships. The one who loves God loves his brother, and that love is real and satisfying, and brings honor and glory to God. The testimony amongst God's children that will bring glory to their Father is that they love one another, and that there is an expression of oneness like unto the oneness in the Godhead. Let God strike a deathblow in our minds and hearts to anything less than this, and let us humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God and let Him work His love in our hearts.