How did I become the person I am? Why didn’t I continue making self-destructive choices again and again like I once did? I can say with certainty that it was God’s church that was tremendously important in the transformation of who I was to who I am now.
For those of us who grew up in, well, let’s just say less than perfect families, one of the liberating results of becoming authentic Jesus followers is that it meant we entered into a new family. My experience is that God’s church became a new family that genuinely changed the direction of my life, and millions of other people have experienced this as well. In a very real sense, it was the love of God experienced through the church that “re-familied” us, “re-parented” us.
Church family is about so much more than just attending services together. It’s about loving and being loved, serving and being served, celebrating and being celebrated. It’s about experiencing joys and sorrows together, going through ups and downs together, as a healthy, Holy Spirit led family.
Our connection as a family allows us as parts of Christ’s church to encourage one another, and care for one another, and support one another, and even challenge one another, all in a spirit of genuine love.
As a church family we get to share in the fullness of faith and life together. During the hardships of life, like when one faces the loss of a loved one or loses their job, we’re there loving one another as a family. During the joy-filled celebrations of life, like a marriage, the birth of a child, baptism, we’re there loving one another as a family.
The Apostle Paul wrote in Hebrews 10:24: “Let us think about each other and help each other to show love and do good deeds.” A church family, as a community of faith, spurs one another toward Christlike love and good deeds that reflect the work of the Spirit in believers’ lives. A church family is to demonstrate compassion, kindness, thoughtfulness, grace and mercy to all through the love of Jesus.
Believers in Christ are more than just friends who go to the same church. There’s a deep spiritual and emotional bond between Christians. We are united by Christ as a family. That’s why we grieve greatly when people who once were a part of the church family no longer are connected. Paul writes in Hebrews 10:25: “Don’t stop meeting together with other believers, which some people have gotten into the habit of doing. Instead, encourage each other.”
In the church family we still are imperfect and broken. Recognizing this reality, God has given wisdom on how to navigate difficult situations within the church family. Paul writes in Colossians 3:13-14: “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.”
With love for one another comes mutual respect, giving one another the benefit of the doubt, trust, and seeing one another as God sees us. The power of love binds the body of Christ together.
The love of God’s family, the church, dramatically changed my life. How about you? And how will you join me in being the love of Christ’s body, the church, to change the lives of other people?