1 Corinthians 4:14-17. I do not write these things to make you ashamed, but to admonish you as my beloved children. 15 For though you have countless guides in Christ, you do not have many fathers. For I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. 16 I urge you, then, be imitators of me. 17 That is why I sent you Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord, to remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach them everywhere in every church.
One of the greatest truths about us being in Christ and Christ being in us is that now we are family. Christ is our DNA. He is our family tree. We are God’s children and Christ’s siblings.
This spiritual family is what Paul brings to light for the Corinthians:
to admonish you as my beloved children
I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel
Timothy, my beloved and faithful child in the Lord
Paul sees himself as the Corinthian’s spiritual father. Therefore his goal is not to shame them, but rather to instruct them as a dad would his children. His motivation is paternal love.
You see church isn’t just an organization, or a social club, or an assembly. It’s a family. This is what “to live is Christ” means- you get a family! You get love and acceptance. You get dozens of spiritual dads and moms. You get brothers and sisters. And you get to be a dad and a mom for others.
Isn’t this what Jesus told his disciples was coming?
Mark 10: 29-30. Jesus said, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or lands, for my sake and for the gospel, 30 who will not receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions, and in the age to come eternal life.
Jesus is describing the church. The church of Jesus is the new eternal and ultimate family. God’s family. Now, under the New Covenant, the biological family is no longer the highest goal. Marriage is no longer necessary, in fact singleness may be preferred. “Be fruitful and multiply” is no longer about procreation, but instead it’s about “go and make disciples of every nation.”
Maybe what scares us about really adopting this familial way of thinking is what Paul says in verse 16- be imitators of me. This is something that every mom and dad has said to their child. “Watch me.” “Let me show you how.” “Follow me.” “Let me tell you something.”
But when we think about saying this to another Christian for some reason we freeze. But why should our spiritual parenting be any different from natural parenting? How else will any Christian ever grow up? Can a child grow up without a parent? Not very well. Can a Christian grow up without a parent? Not very well.
“To live is Christ” gives us the grace and power we need to be spiritual fathers and mothers. Through the church it gives us the fathers and mothers we need for our spiritual growth. And in Christ we have access to the ultimate spiritual family- Father, Son, Holy Spirit.
How does it encourage you to know that you are part of a spiritual family? Do you have a spiritual father or mother? Are you a spiritual father/mother? Does the thought of that scare you? How does union with Christ give you the grace and power you need to embrace your spiritual family?