It was a special, feel good story whose cast of characters included men with names like “Pops,” “Candy Man,” “Mad Dog,” “Cobra,” “Crazy Horse,” “Matt The Scatt,” “The Frying Dutchman,” “The Hammer,” “Scrap Iron,” and “The Caveman.” They had several feel good stories among their number. One of them had overcome a childhood disease, osteomyelitis, and wore a brace until he was 12. One of them co-authored a book with a U.S. poet laureate. One of them is said to have hit a home run while in the minors that went out of the stadium, landed in a coal car of a passing train, and was picked up in another state several hundred miles later. They even had a theme song that captured the fact that even though they were quirky and not without a few colorful characters, they were a tight-knit bunch. The Sisters Sledge hit, “We Are Family,” perfectly described the 1979 Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team that won the World Series. It had only one Hall of Fame player, Willie Stargell, but most of the rest of the team came together to have the best season of their career in 1979. It is still one of the most memorable teams in all of sports history.
“Family” is a word with definite, strong connotations. For many, the word evokes feelings of warmth and sweet memories of bygone days. For some, it includes the presence of small and growing children who seem to enter a new phase of development weekly, if not daily. For others, that brings back to mind a stage of life now long past. The very name, “family,” brings sights, smells, and sounds into play to help us conjure up our personal pictures. Uttering the word “family” may make eyes roll or light up with joy or both.
The New Testament, in several places, teaches the idea that the church is the family of God. Paul tells Timothy we can can how to behave in God’s house (1 Tim. 3:15). That extends to how we treat each other in our various age groups and both genders (1 Tim. 5:1-2). Paul instructs Titus on how the older men and women and younger men and women are to act, emphasizing how the older are to teach the younger (Ti. 2:1ff). Peter tells younger members how to treat the older members (1 Pet. 5:5). The Ephesian epistle reveals how this spiritual family loves and is loved (1:4,15; 2:4; 3:17-21; 4:2,15; 5:2), accepts (1:6 + 4:2), supports and unites (note the use of the word “together” throughout the epistle; 1:10, 2:5, 2:6; 2:21; 2:22; 4:16), and unites (1:22; 4:1-3; 4:24; 4:32).
The ’79 Pirates have nothing on us, the church. We are family! This is not an organization with a paid, professional speaker, a board of directors, and a fraternity, club, or party bound by ideas and ideals. Is that how you would describe your physical family? No, it is how Lanny Wolfe described it.
We’re part of the family that’s been born again,
Part of the family whose love knows no end;
For Jesus has saved us, and made us His own,
Now we’re part of the family that’s on its way home.
And sometimes we laugh together, sometimes we cry;
Sometimes we share together, heartaches and sighs;
Sometimes we dream together of how it will be
When we all get to heaven, God’s family.