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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson

Church Questions

Jesus family and nuclear family at one table. Love it!!

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about the Church. Church, capital C, as well as church, lowercase. Mostly I’ve been thinking about church as family. 

Ideally, nuclear family and church family intersect. Isn’t this the deep desire of every mama’s heart? Brothers and sisters in blood, also brothers and sisters in Jesus. Ties that can never be shaken. My purest delight is worshipping in word and deed with my sons and their wives and their children. 

And yet, I consider these words of Jesus:

“Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?” And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:48-50) 

Obviously Jesus loved his biological family a lot—his parents and his siblings. But it would seem Jesus had equal affection for his Father’s family. And I believe he invites us to experience the same. 

This week I’ve been meditating on two key passages. Typically I have bookmarks in four Bible texts at the same time. One in the Old Testament. A second in a Psalm or other wisdom book. A third in a Gospel or Acts. And a forth in a New Testament letter. Sometimes I read a bit from each text. Some days I get absorbed in just one. And sometimes (like this week) I find myself pressing pause to meditate on a particular passage (or passages) over and over again. Which is how I’ve ended up lingering in these two companionable passages—classics in understand the role of CHURCH. 


Acts 2:42-47

They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching, to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe, and many wonders and signs were being performed through the apostles. Now all the believers were together and held all things in common. They sold their possessions and property and distributed the proceeds to all, as any had need. Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple, and broke bread from house to house. They ate their food with joyful and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. Every day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

Romans 12:9-21

Let love be without hypocrisy. Detest evil; cling to what is good. Love one another deeply as brothers and sisters. Take the lead in honoring one another. Do not lack diligence in zeal; be fervent in the Spirit; serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope; be patient in affliction; be persistent in prayer. Share with the saints in their needs; pursue hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud; instead, associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own estimation. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Give careful thought to do what is honorable in everyone’s eyes. If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Friends, do not avenge yourselves; instead, leave room for God’s wrath, because it is written, Vengeance belongs to me; I will repay, says the Lord. But

If your enemy is hungry, feed him.If he is thirsty, give him something to drink.For in so doingyou will be heaping fiery coals on his head.

Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good.


I’m not going to unpack the texts for you. They’re pretty straight-forward. Instead, I’m going to ask you a few of the questions I’ve been pondering myself. 

I wonder. To what degree has this been my experience of Church? What’s the same? What’s different? 

Would I be willing to adjust my life in order to live as though church is really my family? 

When I think of my local church… am I able to say, “We have everything in common?” (The honest answer is a resounding, “No.” lol.) 

Do I live in harmony? Do I associate with the humble? Do I resist being wise in my own estimation? Yikes. 

How about my response to evil? Do I detest it? And at the same time, am I conquering evil with good

What does this even look like? 

Am I (are we) filled with awe when we take note of the signs and wonders God is regularly working through us? 

Do I practice hospitality? How often? With whom? For what purpose? 

Is Jesus adding to our numbers daily?? 

Even as I grapple with these things, I’m acutely aware of our complicated cultural moment. Days when it seems easier to find unity in politics or sports teams or music genre than our common bond in Jesus. Days when churches are mega and denominations are endless and “breaking bread” is a private transaction. 

I don’t mean to accuse, and if I do, the proverbial “3 fingers” point back at me. 

I’m merely grappling, and invite you to join me. 

I’m longing for something, and I’m not even sure what it is.

According to John Mark Comer’s Practicing the Way (the book I’ve been reading alongside my daily lineup of Scripture)—

…we simply are not meant to follow Jesus alone. The radical individualism of Western culture is not only a mental health crisis and growing social catastrophe; it’s a death blow to any kind of serious formation into Christlike love. (p.187) 

(Again, yikes.) 

Simply put—Jesus means for us to do this thing TOGETHER. 

We are the Church. Will you also be my family? 

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