Growing up, my mom and dad had a favorite saying: “Remember who you are!” They said it each day we left for school, when we went to a friend’s house, or when I complained in aisle five that they wouldn’t buy me fudge cookies. It was a loaded phrase that came with layers of meaning: I had family who loved me, forgiveness would always be found, and no matter what, we would always be there for one another.
Because my family was so tight-knit, I always believed blood was thicker than water. But then my husband’s job moved us and our three kids to Chicago, five hours from any family or friends. It was the first time in more than 25 years I had been away from their support. With a husband who worked as long as the sun was up, I was lonelier than ever, and I mourned the loss of my family the most.
But God was teaching me to look further than bloodlines for my family. By his grace, a few months after moving to Chicago, we found a church and immediately found a home. The people there didn’t care what my last name was, how I dressed or talked, or what my résumé looked like. They loved me and cared for me, just like I was their family. It didn’t matter our history or that they only just met us; they saw me as a sister—the water of the Spirit, thicker than the blood of biology.
While my blood family taught me I always had a home with them, Chicago taught me that “home” is much bigger than people living under the same roof. Being displaced from everything and everyone I’d ever known taught me there is a deeper, more wonderful family that Christ has provided for me—no matter where I live—through the local church.
I don’t know what kind of family you grew up with. Maybe it sounds a little like mine, or maybe the word “family” only brings up feelings of pain and brokenness. Either way, all our earthly families fail us to some degree. And while the local church is still imperfect on this side of glory, God has designed it to be where we find our truest and closest family. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, he made us “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession” (1 Pet. 2:9). No matter the status or location of our earthly family, Christ gave us a place to belong today—among people who are our eternal brothers and sisters.
Because of the gospel, this family looks different from any earthly family in existence. Each gifted in different ways, God’s family is from “every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages” (Rev. 7:9). It is not bonded not by biological bloodlines, but by the shed blood of Christ. His blood buys our entrance into our true family.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, God’s family members can strive to love and serve each other unconditionally, spur one another on to love and good deeds, and encourage each other to not grow weary in the faith. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, a local body of believers gives a home and a family to the lonely, misplaced, broken, lost, and abandoned. No matter your last name, family history, or DNA—take heart. If you trust in Jesus, you have a place to belong, not because you grew up with certain people, but because you share in the gospel with fellow believers.
No matter how lonely you feel today, remember: You are not forgotten or overlooked, my sister. You are unbreakably, eternally part of God’s family.
“Remember who you are.” I like this saying. While my parents don’t say it to me very often anymore, I still find myself repeating it. To my kids. To myself. It reminds me even in the midst of overwhelming seasons of loneliness that God has made a way for me to never have to be truly alone, today or in eternity. While I am blessed to have a wonderful earthly father, I long for the day when I will meet my true Father face to face. I don’t know how it will go, but I imagine my face will hit the earth, so blinded will I be by his wondrous glory. But when I finally get up the courage to look to my right or to my left, I imagine it will be a great joy to catch a glimpse of my brothers and sisters all doing the same, as a family forever.
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION/ APPLICATION:
When we feel lonely, we often struggle to remember who we are in Christ. In what ways does knowing God as your Father and how he provides a family for you in the local church bring you comfort?
Our family history shapes much of our views about our church family. When reflecting on your earthly family, in what ways is it similar to how God has designed the church body? In what ways is it different?
Christ’s sacrifice has created a place for us to belong. Have you found a home with a local gathering of believers? If you have, how can you invest more deeply, knowing they are your family for eternity?