Dear Theophilus… August 2018


How do you understand the different roles within a family? Of mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters? The roles will have changed over the years for
different reasons: during the wars when so many men went off to fight, and more recently with the
increased numbers of working mothers. But, in your family’s situation, how do you see the role of
mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters?

The gospels tell us of a time when Jesus was in a house talking to a large crowd and someone came and told him that his mother and brothers were standing outside wanting to talk to him. Jesus’ reply ‘Who are my mother and brothers?’ might seem quite harsh and disrespectful to his family members, but Jesus often said seemingly controversial things in order to make an important point, and he does that here when, having pointed to his disciples, he says, ‘Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”

I don’t think Jesus is being disparaging to his mother and brothers, I think he is using their presence as an illustration to make a wider point. And it is a point that has implications for all of us if we are followers of Jesus. Jesus is in fact saying that, if we are his followers, seeking to do the will of his Father in heaven, we too are his mother, his brothers and his sisters. (I think he leaves out ‘fathers’ because, for him, with Joseph most likely dead, there was only one father, his heavenly Father.)

The Christian church is often likened to a family, but I wonder how often we think about our roles within that family? What is the role of mother within the church? Who holds that role for you and for whom do you have the role of mother? Likewise, father. What is the role of father within the church? Who holds that role for you and for whom do you have the role of father? And what are the roles of brothers and sisters? How do you relate to others as brother or sister? How can you develop those relationships?

Without undermining the important place in our lives of our earthly families, I wonder how we, as people who seek to do the will of our Father in heaven, can develop our relationships as mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters within our Christian family?


Theophilus is the guy for whom Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and the book of Acts. (Luke 1:3 and Acts 1:1) Theophilus means ‘Lover of God’ so, if you love God, it was written for you!