Which family has a greater claim on our lives? The church family or our biological family? Take a look at the following Scriptures and tell me what you think:
Mark 3:31-35 says, "And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, "Your mother and your brother are outside, seeking you." And he answered them, "Who are my mother and my brothers?" And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother."
1 Tim. 3:5 says, "For if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church?"
Matt. 10:34-37 says, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me."
1 Tim. 5:8 says, "But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever."
So which is it? Which family has priority? Some might say: "Obviously, you need to put your biological family first. If you don't, then how can you really care for your church family?" While others might say: "My church family has greater claim on my life since it's the family I joined when I was born again, and it will be my family for all eternity." Both of these answers are truthful and I believe biblical. So which family do we put first? Which one has a greater claim on our lives?
Tim Chester says, "the gospels make it clear that the church family has a greater claim on us than our biological families ... While the church should support the family as a God-ordained institution, we do not give it our ultimate allegiance. Is it too much to suggest that for some Christains their biological family has become an idol?" (Gospel Centred Church, 70-71).
Though I agree with Chester and understand the danger of the family becoming an idol, I don't think it's helpful to separate the "two families" and put one above the other in importance. After all, many a pastor has fallen into the trap of "marrying the church" and forgetting his family. Clearly, God wants the church family and the biological family to work together in its mission to make disciples. It's really not one or the other. Biblically it's both. My family is connected to a larger church family and my allegiance is to Christ who reigns over both.
So practically I'm trying to find ways to bring Deut. 6 and Mt. 28 together. To put both families first! Thoughts?