I want to discuss two definitions of family and the blood that connects them both. I want to talk about those definitions and blood. Yes, blood. Our blood that connects us to our loved ones and Christ’s blood that connects us to our Creator are worthy of thought.
The first definition of a family is that a family consists of people with whom you share blood or who live together under a roof even if they are not related. You know; genes, DNA, blood. It is typically made up of a mother, a father, and children that issued from them. In past times when men died young and women died in childbirth often it would consist of step-children, half-children, adopted children, and blood children. In modern times, this is the normal way of families by choice as people get divorced and change spouses as often as they change fashions, or so it can seem. But, family also consists of step-children, half-children, adopted children, and blood children with a parent or with two parents or sometimes another relative or relatives all living together or united by having lived together at some point.
It’s a mistake to downplay the importance of blood. I made that mistake and it has hurt me, and took the life of someone I loved dearly. Let me explain. I didn’t think of blood as being very important a long time ago. I grew up in a family that did little but fight and argue with parents that were unaccepting of me and each other, even though they bestowed material blessings on each other and myself abundantly. Also, I was never very popular, due to my personality, among the majority of my extended family of cousins, aunts, and uncles and even grandparents. So, for me, a family had to be a choice, not something that happened to you by accident. I had two biological daughters and I loved my daughters but I lacked that sense of duty that my grandfather told my mother once was the reason he was hospitable to us; it was his duty, he said. I just didn’t get it like most people do. Most people regard blood as very important. I still have trouble with that. My experiences with blood relations had not been, well, very satisfying.
So, to me, when I met Beth, and fell in love, marrying a woman with 9 kids wasn’t a sacrifice. I didn’t leap over something or have to ignore anything. I wasn’t worried about what my kids wouldn’t have or about any possible conflicts. I loved Beth and, in my fallible way, I loved her children, particularly the ones that took to me right away so it was no sacrifice or tough decision to marry her.
However, there was one thing I was missing. That was how important blood or not being blood would be to those children and my own, and my birth family. Now, understand I was a bit of tyrant or a grouch and was neither a good step-parent or parent from the position of what I know now so I had other issues with my parenting than just ignorance. One step-son eventually said in retrospect that I acted more like an angry employee than a father and he was right.
My oldest biological daughter grew up in an environment where I repeated my own father’s mistakes, as I seemed to stew in confusion and anger most of the time when I didn’t have a beer in my hand. On top of all that my daughter craved a relationship with her biological mother. This mother rejected her twice and threatened her life once for not calling her “mommy.” Beth was her step-mother and my daughter was the one who actually proposed that I marry Beth and kept asking, as a three year old, “When us gettin’ married?” but when she got older she still longed to know and be loved and accepted by a biological mother who simply did not want her, regardless of my daughter’s love for her, and took her frustration at not getting that acceptance from her birth mother out on Beth. That lack of feeling on my part and my lack of understanding of how badly my oldest daughter and my step-sons needed their biological parent who shared their gender and their DNA simply showed my own callousness and weakness of mind and heart.
But, even if I had been a wonderful person, a great father-figure, and a true encourager and supporter of my children and step-children, it would have been incumbent upon me and it is important for every parent, step-parent, and adoptive parent not to be angry or hurt when a child seeks out some kind of closure or acceptance from a biological parent, no matter what a jerk or what a worthless loser they might be. Do not underestimate the power of blood. If you ignore it that will be to your detriment and to the harm of your children, and not all of them will feel this way, but to the harm of your children and step-children who feel that need to connect, at least for closure, and possibly for acceptance with that biological parent.
Just think of the issues of blood in recent history; the Turkish massacre of the Armenians in WWI, the Holocaust, racial slavery and Jim Crow laws in the U.S., a Civil War where brother fought brother and father fought against son, Bosnian-Serbian atrocities, and even the Hatfields and McCoys. You’re not in my tribe. You’re not my blood. You’re an OTHER. On and on, blood causes issues. Anger. Rage. Murder even. But definitely pain. Remember David made a great slaughter of the Geshurites. See 1Samuel 27:8,9. He took the daughter of the king, made her his wife, and had a son, Absalom, by her. A son by another wife raped Absalom’s sister and Absalom killed him and fled to his maternal family’s protection. Forty years after the initial massacre, and people are always arguing about what that forty years means but it seems obvious to me, Absalom returned and rebelled (2Samuel 15:7 and context) against David causing great sorrow and pain for David, nearly costing him his kingdom and his life. This was permitted by God because David committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband, Uriah, by the sword of the Ammonites. We all know the story. Blood is important.
I only recently learned this. Years after my daughter’s suicide things started to come clear. My mother rejected my surviving biological daughter, her children, and my step-children and none of the latter want anything to do with her as she sits in a home for the elderly. Beth explained to me how my oldest daughter needed some kind of closure with her biological mother, some kind of acceptance and that final rejection, not long before she committed suicide, was probably a cause, one cause, of her final act. I didn’t get it, though.
I went through a lot of questioning, trying to understand why my daughter wanted so badly to be accepted by a mother who rejected her and also why my stepsons needed to connect with their biological extended family who had not been involved in their lives. I just didn’t get it. Finally, I read a story on the internet about a step-father who provided everything for his step-daughter, trying to buy his place to replace her father who was worthless. When she wanted her biological father to give her away at her wedding the step-father was paying for he exploded and canceled everything he was doing and left the girl and her mother. He was not appreciated or respected for his efforts. I thought, what an idiot, what a selfish dolt, to not respect the power of blood and the need for his step-daughter to be walked down the aisle, to be approved of, to have her life’s choice affirmed by her blood Dad. Then, I cried. That man was me or could have been. What I realized was that I had been as blind as the man I was condemning, and just as stupid. Blood is important even though I have pretty great relationship with most of my step-children. Some even love me. I have a good relationship with most of them and they have all been very kind and generous to me, plus, they have all turned out to be really good people thanks to God and their mother. My remaining biological daughter loves only Beth as her mother and never had an attachment to her biological mother who did not want her.
Now, let’s look at another definition of family. In one regard, a family consists of people who share your blood and a family can consist of people who would shed their blood for you. Numerous studies have been done and books even written about how in combat, soldiers don’t give their lives for the flag, the Constitution, apple pie, or mom. They give their lives for their comrades. The surviving heroes often say they just wanted the guys they were with to be able to go home. Soldiers who come home can get stressed out and even go berserk thinking of the guilt they have for leaving their buddies back in harm’s way or even surviving while others who they think of as good or better than they are died and they didn’t. It tears them up. That is a powerful family that war can create.
In English Literature there are few greater declarations of shed blood and shared blood outside of the Bible than Shakespeare’s play Henry V and the famous St. Crispin’s Day speech that preluded the Battle of Agincourt where he rallied the outnumbered English against a superior French army. In it, King Henry says,
“…We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother…”
We must also remember that we are in the family of God by virtue of Christ shedding His blood on the Cross for us. We are united by blood, but His, not ours. You can have 20 children, physical children, but the only ones who will go to Heaven are the ones who join that family. Paul says in the third chapter of Ephesians.
14 ¶ For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named,
God has adopted us and this adoption is more sure than a normal birth. It can never be broken promising a type of body that can never die.
Romans 8:15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father….23 And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body.
Jesus Himself extended the meaning of family in relation to Him in the passage starting in Matthew 12:46;
46 ¶ While he yet talked to the people, behold, his mother and his brethren stood without, desiring to speak with him. 47 Then one said unto him, Behold, thy mother and thy brethren stand without, desiring to speak with thee. 48 But he answered and said unto him that told him, Who is my mother? and who are my brethren? 49 And he stretched forth his hand toward his disciples, and said, Behold my mother and my brethren! 50 For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.
In Revelation the prime characteristic of the end-time martyrs and, indeed, all Christians of all times, is to be their willingness to shed their blood for Christ as they are slandered by Satan continually.
Revelation 12:10 And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. 11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
For the key element in a life for Christ is not holding that life to be greater than the one who gave it.
Paul says in Philippians 3;
7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. 8 Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
9 ¶ And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death; 11 If by any means I might attain unto (means understand or wrap my mind around; see Psalm 139:6 and Proverbs 1:5) the resurrection of the dead. 12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect (complete and entire; see Colossians 4:12, James 1:4): but I follow after, if that I may apprehend (to know, perceive, or understand) that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. 13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, 14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Christ paid for the church, purchased, bought us with His own blood.
Acts 20:28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.
1Corinthians 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.
1Corinthians 7:23 Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.
The blood that unites believers with God creates a stronger real bond that any other type of family blood. The proof is the promise of eternal life. When we receive Christ we receive the Holy Spirit, His Spirit, indwelling us, as earnest money, a deposit on our inheritance in eternity and the redemption of our bodies.
Ephesians 1:3 ¶ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: 4 According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: 5 Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, 6 To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. 7 In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; 8 Wherein he hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; 9 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: 10 That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: 11 In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: 12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. 13 In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
Make no mistake. We are in a war as Henry’s English archers were and as American soldiers, marines, airman, and sailors in every battle from Brandywine to the Argonne Forest to the deserts of Afghanistan. But our warfare is never carnal with bombs and planes and bullets. It is spiritual against sin and disobedience to God.
2Corinthians 10:3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ; 6 And having in a readiness to revenge all disobedience, when your obedience is fulfilled.
And it is our union by way of Christ’s blood that makes us an eternal family, unites Jew and Gentile into the church of God, and makes each one of us a temple for God’s Spirit to dwell in.
Ephesians 2:11 ¶ Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; 12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: 13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
14 ¶ For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; 20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; 21 In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: 22 In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.
The earthly family spends its time seeking its own, worshipping Self, and demanding what it believes is its due. The heavenly family fights against sin and rebellion against God in its own soul and worships Christ, surrendering Self to Him while being willing for the Creator of the universe to work through them on earth.
Mark 8:34 And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.
We have been born again, the second time into a family who will enjoy each other’s fellowship for eternity, who will not dispute each other there, who will cause no pain to each other, who will not shun each other’s company, or form cliques to push aside ones they don’t like or approve of, as human families do. This family is not based on our blood but on God’s own blood and we will be like Christ.
We would do well even now to love our heavenly family as we are compelled to do in the Bible. Paul gives us several commands of particular importance regarding our relationships within the church. Read Romans, chapter 12 and 1Thessalonians 5. Remember, we are going to be with each other and the people from Gorum Baptist down the road and the people from the Vietnamese church in the jungles of Southeast Asia and the Liberian church in West Africa FOR EVER and we would do well to get along with each other now. This family is based on Christ’s blood, not our own, and we will answer to Him for our treatment of each other in this family as well as in our earthly family.
There are two things that should stand out in our rules concerning our treatment of each other that are not often talked about. One, if you are what Discovery channel or Animal Planet people call an “Alpha male” or an “Alpha female” leave it at home. There is no place for your dominating attitude within the body of Christ. Neither is their room for your self-righteousness in thinking that anyone who has not accepted and applied to their own lives your convictions is less than you. Think of these things in both your relationship with your spouse and children and in your relationship with your church family.
Romans 12:1 ¶ I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. 3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. 4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: 5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; 7 Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness. 9 Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good. 10 Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another; 11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord; 12 Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer; 13 Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality. 14 Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not. 15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep. 16 Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits. 17 Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. 18 If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men. 19 Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord. 20 Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. 21 Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.
The other is, don’t even let someone get the wrong idea about what you are doing or your intentions toward them. Evil can be sinful iniquity or it can be malicious intent, malice, depending on the context. In the following it can go either way. Again, these things apply to both families.
1Thessalonians 5:22 Abstain from all appearance of evil.
For either definition of evil don’t give someone the opportunity to think you are doing something sinful and don’t give someone the opportunity to think you have malice in your heart toward them.
And remember that family that God gave you here on earth, the one that consists of your blood and perhaps a step-child or adopted children? They are your first church, with father as pastor, or in some cases mother, when no father is present. You need to devote yourself to presenting Christ to them in the most God-glorifying way possible. Examine yourself. Are you presenting yourself as a Christian to them while you display these godless traits in your speech and behavior?
Romans 1:29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful:
So you clearly have responsibilities toward your blood family, your adopted children, your step-children that have direct implications and consequences in eternity. But, there are also, as I pointed out, responsibilities that have as great implications for the family you are in by virtue of your second birth, the family created not by your blood, but by Christ’s.
Remember, as you love your earthly family, even the unsaved among them, that you are called to also love your heavenly family. Do you love each other? Can you even say that you love God?
1John 4:20 If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?
In the Bible the word charity is a reference to the quality of a Christian’s love for his brothers and sisters in Christ.
Colossians 3:12 ¶ Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; 13 Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. 14 And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. 15 And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. 17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
1Peter 4:8 And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.9 Use hospitality one to another without grudging.10 As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.
2Peter 1:5 ¶ And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; 6 And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness;7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.
Now, I want to finish with keeping that definition of charity in mind and I want you to contemplate this chapter in your future relations with your family in Christ.
1Corinthians 13:1 ¶ Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
4 ¶ Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
8 ¶ Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.
If you don’t love other Christians, don’t kid yourself into saying you love God. It’s a contradiction.