Experiencing the Family of God in a New Way

By Mark D. Roberts

September 9, 2016

“Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

Mark 3:35


A patient lying in a hospital bed, hooked up to IV fluid.As we saw in yesterday’s Life for Leaders devotion, Jesus radically redefines what it means to be part of his family. One is a brother or sister or mother to Jesus, not because of blood relationship, but in light of shared obedience to God’s will. Without denying the value of natural families, Jesus opens up a whole new way of looking at what it means to be part of a family, the family of God.

Recently, I had a profound experience of the reality of which Jesus speaks, in which those who belong to God are deeply bound together as a family. It happened a couple of weeks ago, as I was suffering with what seemed to be a bad flu. My condition deteriorated to the point that my doctor sent me to the hospital. There, for several days, I was subjected to all measure of tests. The doctors just couldn’t figure out what was ailing me, so they bombarded me with antibiotics while awaiting the test results.

As I spent several days in the hospital, the first few in a semi-ICU floor, my wife, mother, and siblings spent hours just sitting with me. I was very grateful for their presence. Yet, in addition to the support of my natural family, I heard from dozens of sisters and brothers in Christ that they were praying for me, that their church was praying for me, that their families were praying for me, and so on. I felt as never before a deep bond of love and faith with my Christian family. I sensed myself relying on those who were lifting me up in prayer, feeling the support of their faith (rather like the mat carriers with the paralytic in Mark 2; see Life for Leaders, August 16 and August 17).

After five days in the hospital, I finally received a diagnosis. I had Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, a very serious and very rare tick-born disease. I had contracted it while hiking in the High Sierra earlier in August (though I was not aware I had been bitten by a tick). I’m the only case in California so far this year. The good news was, once I had a clear diagnosis, there was a clear treatment plan that would lead to full recovery. How thankful I am for God’s gift of excellent doctors and antibiotics!

In the days since my release from the hospital, I’ve been moved once again by the love of the family of God. People I don’t even know well have rejoiced with me over my good health even as they once prayed for my healing. I am so blessed to be a brother in the family of Jesus.


Has there been a time in your life when you were especially aware of and grateful for the family of God?

How would you describe your relationship with your sisters and brothers in Christ?

Are there things you might do to experience the family of God more profoundly?


Heavenly Father, how we thank you for gathering us into your family. Thank you for the brothers and sisters you give us through Christ, for the love and care we are able to share together.

Help us, Lord, to be your family more consistently and truly. May we discover how better to love each other. May we encourage each other to do your will in every segment of life.

All praise be to you, O God, for the love that binds us together in your family. Amen.


Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online Bible commentary: The Paralytic Man (Mark 2:1-12)

Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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