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Relevant Biblical Passages & Portraits:

Matt. 12:49-50 — Those who do God’s will are Jesus family.
2 Cor. 6:17-18 — God’s children are called to be separate.
1 John 5:14 — God’s family will ask according to His will.
1 John 4:8 — Without love one cannot know God.
Matt. 6:9 — One Father makes us all brothers and sisters.
John 13:34-35 — Jesus’ new command calls for imitated love.
Psalm 68:4-6 — God’s family includes those in desperate need.
1 Peter 2:9 — God’s family moves from darkness into light.

Discussion Questions:

1. The idea of family implies that both our relationship to God and to each other is virtually irrevocable. How does that “family” idea relate to Jesus’ statement that (only) those who do the will of the Father actually belong to God’s family (Matt. 12:49-50)?
2. The call to come apart and be separate (2 Cor. 6:17-18) also puts some strain on the “family” metaphor. Under what conditions does a natural, earthly family “separate” from those who are considered unworthy and a source of contamination?
3. Several passages from the Gospel of John and the Epistles of John imply a harmony of will and a harmony of love between God and God’s earthly children. When we pray, we will ask according to God’s will (1 John 5:14); love is essential for knowing God (1 John 4:8); we are to love others as Jesus loved us (John 13:34-35). To what extent is this bond between the human and the divine a “natural” one, implanted in us by virtue of the fact that God created us? To what extent can we “learn” the will and the love by following Jesus?
4. When we are called to “love” others, how does this love relate to the classic kinds of love (eros, philia, agape)? Will our outreach to the lesser members of God’s family — the alienated, the hateful, the unloving — be a natural one or marked by an act of the will?
5. A natural bonding between family members tends to separate family members from those who are not members of the family. How does church as “family” relate to the concept of the larger universal family of which every creature is a part? Does moving from darkness into the light (1 Peter 2:9) imply a separation from other people or an enriching of our contacts with other people?

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