Greg Strand is EFCA executive director of theology and credentialing, and he serves on the Board of Ministerial Standing as well as the Spiritual Heritage Committee. He and his family are members of Northfield (Minnesota) EFC.
Yesterday we commissioned one of our recent college graduates to life as a missionary. As part of the commissioning service, we invited his parents, elders and the missions chair to lay hands on this young man and to pray for him. It was a wonderful time of worship and celebration.
After the service I visited further with the parents who are members at this local Free Church about the importance and significance of this day. I reminded them of the familiar statement, “blood is thicker than water,” which they rightly understood to mean that biological family sticks together and takes priority over all others, particularly during special (or difficult) times. On this day, I informed them, it is also very important to remember that “water is thicker than blood,” that is, one’s life in the family of God through faith in Jesus Christ takes priority over all others (which is evidenced in the life of Jesus [Mk. 3: 31-35] and in His teaching to the disciples [Matt. 19:23-30]), and is central to one’s life, ministry and mission. (The water depicts baptism, reflecting a prior inward cleansing by the Holy Spirit when a person experiences the new birth, and that faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is now publicly professed before the Lord among the church in baptism, cf. Rom. 6:1-11; Col. 2:11-12; 1 Pet. 3:21-22).
God has enabled husband and wife to give birth biologically. This is one of the mandates given by God (Gen. 1:26-28), and as a vital part of that parents are to train their children and to model for them a life of joyful, obedient faith in the Lord (Ps. 78:1-8; Prov. 22:6; Eph. 6:1-4; Col. 3:20-21; cf. 2 Tim. 1:3-7). But only God can give rebirth spiritually (Jn. 1:12-13; 3:3, 5; 2 Cor. 5:17; Tit. 3:4-8; 1 Pet. 1:22-24), which makes us absolutely dependent on God for the spiritual life and well-being of our children. When God imparts new birth, parents have no greater joy than to know that their children (biologically) walk in truth (spiritually) (3 Jn. 4, though this text addresses “children” through new birth, it means biological parents doubly rejoice). Yesterday was a powerful reminder of both of these truths.
May the Lord use this in our lives as a reminder to be faithful as a mother, a father, as parents in the lives of our children, regardless of age, and our grandchildren. May it also prompt us to pray faithfully and diligently for God to work in the lives of our children, and in your life too! And as you pray for your own biological family, remember to expand your prayers to include members of our spiritual family.