What is Family? Why is it important?
In the Bible there is no Hebrew or Greek word the exactly translates to “family”. The word “house” or “household” is the word to closest word that when translated would be what we now call “family”.
Let’s consider what family was in ancient times. Hebrew families included, husband and wife, their children, if they had sons, it would include their married sons, their wives, and their children. It would also include at times multiple wives and concubines, with their children and their children’s families. Family also included those not related by blood or marriage, the servants and slaves, and those that were passing through but staying with them, and children from adoption.
Identity in these times was not about you as an individual, your identity was derived from being a member of a particular group, tribe, clan or family.
FAMILY HAD AN IMPORTANCE THAT IS BEYOND THE UNDERSTANDING OF MOST AMERICANS.
Everything in the Bible centers around family. Individuals didn’t participate in covenants families did. Commitments made by one member of the family was made for the whole family. Worship began with families in their homes long before it was transitioned to the tabernacle and Temple. Long before the priesthood, pastors, ministers etc, everything was done within the family, tribe, clan, or group you were with.
Even though in the Old Testament we see worship transition to the tabernacle and Temple. After Jesus’ returns to heaven, we see again the structure return to households. These households were open to admitting others. The life of early Christians took place in households. There was a very important shift however in the family between the Old and New Testament, the father or head of the household was no longer the priest for the family.
NOW ALL BELIEVERS ARE PRIESTS, WITH JESUS BEING OVER ALL SEATED AT THE RIGHT HAND OF GOD.
There is so much more to unpack around this concept however I want to leave you with these challenges:
Do you look down on families that do not look like your own?
Are you welcoming others, do you do all you can to focus on your ‘nuclear’ family and keep out those that God may be sending your way?
Which to you has higher priority in your mind, the family you are born into, or your family of faith?
Is your idea or picture of the family of faith to narrow? Where may you have blind spots just as the early Jewish Christians did? Who are the ‘gentiles’ that you keep outside the family of faith?