What F word describes our ecclesia? Followers? Fellowship? Friends? Or family? Dan Fox, from Shirley ecclesia, encouraged us to think of our family in Christ at Horley, a family just like Joseph’s family of 66 members from all those years ago.

Like Joseph’s family, we all have one Father, even if we have different mothers. We have problems, just like Joseph’s family had problems. We are prone to fight, be jealous, commit bad actions. Each member is different. Some are more spiritual, others focussed on work and career, some of us doing things we shouldn’t. Ecclesias are by no means perfect. BUT, like a family, like Joseph’s family, we can show love.

In Gen 37:16 we find Joseph seeking for his family, just like Jesus, for whom he is so clearly a type. And the other 11 brothers clearly represent the disciples….and us, reflecting the range of character types in every ecclesia. Reuben, physically strong, but spiritually weak; Naphtali, doing things alone; Levi and Simeon, quick tempered and fast to react. And Judah.

In Gen 37:26 we find him taking an active role, trying to prevent Joseph from being killed. But then in Gen 38:1 he leaves the family and goes “down”, away from the ecclesia, the family, to spend time with an outsider, Hirah. And why? To make money.

Why doesn’t God prevent him from doing this and the bad things that follow? Simple. Because it is his choice, just as we have a CHOICE.
Fortunately, Judah recognises his errors, when he is humbled by Tamar, his daughter-in-law. He had been thinking of himself only, when he should have been thinking of his family too. Despite being outside the family, outside the ecclesia, God was still working on him

In Gen 43:1 he is back in the family, the ecclesia, and leading, as the family seeks salvation from starvation in Egypt, where Joseph now oversees the land. God has brought Judah back, a changed man, humbled and contrite like Paul (1 Cor 15), recognising God’s grace.

In Gen 43:8 Judah takes personal responsibility for his brother, Benjamin. 1 John 3:16 embodies the concept: “this is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.”

In the same way, around us are all our brothers and sisters – Isachar, Reuben, Gad….. Would you be willing to lay down your life to prevent the spiritual death of any of them? Judah had recognised that our whole purpose in life is to seek, to look out for, each other.

Jesus’s mission was the same. Heb 2:9 “But we see Jesus…..now crowned with glory and honour ….bringing many sons to glory…but the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.”

Jesus’s whole mission is to seek us, to keep us alive. So let us remember how we are a family and lay down our lives for the spiritual good of each other too.