A couple days ago I posted a question about which family has a greater claim on our lives, the church family or our biological family. As I continue to grapple with this question and its implications, I appreciated Jonathan Dodson's words in the comments section of this initial post:
The radical emphasis on the nuclear family is a recent development in history. In the Mediterranean World of the NT, extended family and group think was dominant, not individualistic, nuclear family. In fact, blood brothers/sisters were considered a stronger bond than even that of marriage. This was true in the Ancient Near East also. Hence the many brother narratives and mythologies.
I believe that Jesus and the writers of the NT preserve this communal, extended family perspective on relationships but place it in the context of redemption, creating the church family. Thus, Jesus can say harsh things about biological families because there is a new family with which we are “blood-related.” This is why Paul repeatedly greets the churches as brothers and sisters, not as non-blood relatives, i.e. bride.
I agree that the church family has a greater claim on our lives, which is sometimes at odds with biological family but also takes a redemptive posture towards bio family. If possible, we should try to get the two families to overlap in social interaction. At the end of the day, however, Christ reigns over both very differently–one with judgment and one with salvation.
When we are born again we are born into a new family. Conversion is a community creating event, not a individualistic conversion. The Gospel converts us three times 1)Christ 2) Church 3) Mission. We join the church family and labor with her to include bio family through mission, but our conversion is not to bio family, it is to a new church family gathered around a new Head Jesus, loving one another as part of the new mission which we desperately long our bio families to join.