When we become Christians, God adopts us as His children (I John 3:1). And this new relationship with God as our Father automatically brings us into a brother/sister relationship with all other Christians (Mark 3:31-35). We are members of a new kind of family – not genetically related, but all born of the Spirit (John 1:12,13) and acknowledging one Father. “All obedient believers are near akin to Jesus Christ. They wear his name, bear his image, have his nature, are of his family. He loves them, converses freely with them as his relations. He bids them welcome to his table, takes care of them, provides for them, sees that they want nothing that is fit for them: when he died he left them rich legacies, now he is in heaven he keeps up a correspondence with them, and will have them all with him at last, and will in nothing fail to do the kinsman's part, nor will ever be ashamed of his poor relations, but will confess them before men, before the angels, and before his Father.” (Matthew Henry) At its best, the family is the greatest institution on earth. In our families, we should feel secure and accepted. “Home is the place where, When you have to go there, They have to take you in.” (Robert Frost) We should be caring for each other, supporting each other, and sticking up for each other. A home (or church) like this is a pleasure to visit or to belong to. And a Christian moving to a new town or city should be able to expect to find a warm welcome in any local church fellowship. Christians are commanded to show love to everybody, but we have a special responsibility towards our fellow believers (Galatians 6:10). For an example, see Acts 11:27-30. The famine prediction was not just for the church’s information; it was given so that they could take action. In these days, when communications are so much more rapid, we have no excuse for not helping our brothers and sisters in need all over the world. But happy family life doesn’t just ‘happen’. It requires effort and commitment from the various members. Many modern British families are fragmented by divorce; and even those living under the same roof may spend very little time actually relating to each other; they sleep, eat and watch TV separately. All too easily, this cultural model can seep into our church family life. Many Christians seem to think that attending church is optional – and opt out of it. There are also enough dysfunctional families around to warn us that things can go badly wrong. Behind the front door and the net curtains can lurk serious evils: abuse, domestic violence, sibling rivalry, and personality clashes, to name just a few. There are, sadly, many churches like this too. Family feuds are the worst kind of quarrel (Proverbs 18:19); and our interdenominational squabbles can look very similar. One problem is that, just as in our human families, we don’t always see eye to eye with our Christian brothers and sisters! We can choose our friends, but not our relatives; and though we can these days exert some choice over which church fellowship we belong to, there are still likely to be some members whom we don’t find it easy to get on with. There may even be some ‘black sheep’ that we would all rather disown – but we mustn’t. We are family.