by Garl Latham
When God created the first human being, he declared it was “not good that the man should be alone” (Genesis 2:18). From the body of Adam, our Heavenly Father made “an help meet (suitable) for him” (ibid.). The union thus established led to the first future-minded prophetic statement in scripture: “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24)
From this marriage, the first children were born. That family, initially one man and one woman, grew to be a father, mother and two boys (Genesis 4:1-2). Eve became “the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20) and, in a literal sense, gave birth to the entire human race (Acts 17:26a).
As we read and study our way through the Bible, we’re introduced to many different families. The good examples include those who devotedly placed their faith in God, despite the evil world around them (Genesis 6:8-12); fathers who were willing to keep God and his will first in their lives, even if it meant the loss of a beloved son (Genesis 22:1-2); a brother, whose forgiveness of his fellow siblings reunited an entire clan (Genesis 45:4-5, 13; 50:18-21); parents, who were willing to defy a king’s decree in order to save their child (Exodus 2:1-3; Hebrews 11:23); a godly mother, keeping a vow to dedicate her firstborn son to the Lord (I Samuel 1:11, 24-28).
The greatest example of what we might call an “extended family” existed amongst the ancient Israelites. For the most part, they were physically related, ‘though there was always room for those willing to become proselytes (ref. Exodus 12:48-49; Isaiah 56:3-8; Acts 13:43). Two famous Old Testament women, Rahab and Ruth, willingly left home and family to embrace Jehovah and, in doing so, became part of Emanuel’s earthly “family tree” (Joshua 2:9-13; 6:17, 23, 25; Ruth 1:16; Matthew 1:5).
In this, the Christian dispensation, we’re introduced to the closest family of all: those who, because of a kindred spirit and shared beliefs, become a unique assembly – an ecclesia. Some in our Christian family might also be physically related, but this is by no means a requirement. Our brothers and sisters come from all walks of life (Galatians 3:26-28), yet are one in Christ Jesus (ref. John 10:16; Ephesians 2:13-16). Based upon the Greek language, this gathering of disparate people into one body is the true definition of the “church.”
Today, everyone who believes and obeys the gospel message becomes a Christian, a part of God’s family. That family IS the church – not a building made with hands, but a fellowship made up of those who are in the spiritual body of Christ. What a wondrous thing for the Lord Almighty to declare we are his children! We should gladly take advantage of this blessing by being with our Christian family at every opportunity (Hebrews 10:21-25).
In this life, if we strive overcome this world and its temptations, we can remain God’s children forever (Revelation 21:7)!
May we always find joy in the beautiful promises of God (Romans 5:1-5)!