It has been our joy and pleasure to play host this last week to the family of our lodger. For three nights in a row we were able to provide them with food and company, and they have indeed been added to the list of 5000 who have eaten under our roof (the total is now 130 for anyone interested!).
It got me thinking about the strange and funny organism that family is! We all have family and, whether we get on all the time or not, we love them. Families are quirky, they are fun, they are supportive, they are sometimes annoying and they are yours. But do we always have the same love and devotion towards our church family?
Paul often refers to his fellow christians as "dear brothers and sisters" (see 1 Cor 1:10, Romans 1:13, Romans 12:1, 2 Cor 13:11 for examples) and I don't think he makes that comment lightly. Jesus also makes the comment that his disciples and followers are his mother, brother and sister in Matthew 12:48-50 (notice it is not that they are "like" a mother, brother or sister but that they "are" those things). So we are meant to treat our church family as exactly that - family!
How do we do that I hear you ask? Am I not already doing that I also hear? Well lets take a look:
- families live under the same roof, and that is quite often what marks people out as a family. So don't give up meeting together with your church family - make sure you prioritise sunday meetings and your mid-week small groups. You can't develop family type relationships with people if you don't spend time together!
- families have fun together. You spend most of your leisure time with your family and despite the arguments, most of the time you have fun! So try doing some fun things with your church family and drawing in those who are on the edges or who you struggle to get one with as you may find they are totally different people when you are all having fun.
- families have common ground and interests. We all have our areas of expertise, but most families have some interests that they share. With my husband and his family it is sport (in particular cricket) that brings them together. So why not see if who shares the same interests as you in your church and then build that into your relationships - if you like musicals then find others who do and go together (there are many more examples!).
- families keep each other going. When you are a family, quite often you can walk through the door and sense the mood and what is going on. And you adjust accordingly. Families look after one another and look out for one another (I am sure many of you have older brothers who have kept a beady eye on your boyfriends over the years....) so we should be the same with our church family. Nothing brings people closer together than going through the bad times with each other - people see loyalty and love when you stand with them through those, and even the most annoying people sometimes just need some help through something to make them into the amazing friends they will be in the future.
- families annoy each other and come back the next day for more! You can't really run away from your biological family no matter how much they annoy you (obviously there are exceptions to this - but I will save that for another time...). Most of the time its just petty things anyway or we don't realise that we have done it, so lets treat our church family the same and bear with one another in love. Accept that we are all imperfect and that there are going to be times we don't get along, but choose to let go of it when it does happen so we can all be back the next day for more!
- you can't choose your family. Just as you can't choose who your mum, dad, brother and sister are, it's not up to you to decide who God should or shouldn't bring into his family. So get to know all your church family, not just the people you like or have a particular connection to. God called us to love, and if we love our church family as much as we love our own families then we can't fail to become closer, stronger and more effective.
Praying that we can all get to know our quirky, annoying, amazing church families even better!