Does God have a Spiritual Family? New Testament writers of the Bible believed that Jesus was the first of many brothers and sisters. Can you be one of them?
It is fitting that God, for whom and through whom all things exist, in bringing many children to glory, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For the one who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters saying,
‘I will proclaim your name among my brothers and sisters, in the midst of the congregation I will praise you.’…Since then the children share flesh and blood, he himself likewise shared the same things, so that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who all their lives were held in slavery by the fear of death.
Hebrews 2:10-12,14-15 NRSV
We know that in everything God works for good with those who love, who are called according to his purpose…to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn of many brothers (and sisters).”
Romans 8:28,29b RSV
Other passages, Romans 8:12-17, Ephesians 1:5 and I John 2:29-3:1-4 echo the idea of a spiritual family.
Some of Jesus’ countrymen objected to calling God “Our Father” as he taught his disciples to do when they prayed, in what we call the “Lord’s Prayer”. Jesus pointed out, however, that not only does the Scripture (Old Testament) refer to the people of Israel as children of the Lord God,
You are sons of the Lord your God.
but as gods themselves.
I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the Most High.
On his personal level, however, Jesus is said to have followed God’s command to “lay down his life,” his own natural desires, in order to listen, speak and act as God directed. Eventually, he also gave his life for his friends.
After Jesus’ death, the disciples experienced him in a new sense. They began to understand a deeper and broader significance of his life and death in terms of spiritual life. Fortified with their new sense of purpose and experience of power by the Holy Spirit, they began to encourage others to become part of the family of God.
When God is understood as Our Father in Spirit, the relationship we have with our human fathers affects what we think about God. If your human father was not available or was not responsive to you, it is harder to believe that God loves you and wants to help and be with you. If you feel estranged from your human father, you may feel far away from God, and, especially so if you are angry with your human father. If your relationship with your human father is warm, supportive, and loving, you can more easily expect the same from your heavenly Father.
One of the reasons we feel angry with God and/or a parent is that we think they should not have allowed some bad thing to happen. Sometimes, this bad thing is related to sexual behavior or sexual identity since sexuality is a “core” part of ourselves. but it may be anything at all that we don’t like.
At certain stages of our lives it is very difficult for us to realize that parents and/or God do not always control everything and everyone. God is called the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End, in Revelation 21:5-8, but between those two times we have much freedom and much to overcome.
Many of us are appalled that bad things do happen. We might rather have everyone controlled and always be good. Others’ experiences in growing up make it difficult to believe that there is any good in the world or anyone who can be trusted.
Remember, in the passage above, we do not need to fear death, and God works with us for everything good. God even helps us pray.
…the Spirit help us in our weakness, for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words. And he who searches the hearts of men knows what is the mind of the spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.
Romans 8:26-27 RSV
God’s Spirit aids us in our spiritual growth in our spiritual family!. Growth toward being a glorious person; growth that may involve suffering, but suffering that God helps us endure and overcome! We can trust God.
In our spiritual family, we grow in trust, maturity, and wisdom to accept freedom with responsibility for ourselves and to grant it to others. In our better relationships, greater levels of mutual trust, freedom, and responsibility develop and endure. Sadly, some people do not recognize any responsibility to anyone other than themselves and cannot be trusted. We’ll talk about evil and the Spiritual Family in the next article.