God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing, ~Psalm 68:6a.
The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father,” ~Romans 8:15.
What I am saying is that as long as an heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, although he owns the whole estate. The heir is subject to guardians and trustees until the time set by his father. So also, when we were underage, we were in slavery under the elemental spiritual forces of the world. But when the set time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under the law, that we might receive adoption to sonship. Because you are his sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir, ~Galatians 4:1-7.
The picture above is what we normally think of when we think of a family. We have a father, a mother, and children. If this is our only view of family, we will be disappointed if our family does not look like the one above. In today’s society you find single parent homes. You find widows and orphans. You find childless couples. You find millions of singles who may never marry. So, where is their family?
God sets the lonely in families. We were not intended to become His child and neglect other believers. We are family. It’s a challenging and difficult concept. We are not only called to care for our blood related family, we are called to care for our spiritual family. Some of our relatives we may not see again in heaven (though I’d hope so). There will be no marriage in heaven (Matt 22:30). There will be no having children there. We will all be like the angels. One big happy family.
Why is it so difficult to function as a family in church?
1. We don’t see the benefits of unity.Read previous post about the members of the Body. Division and independence weakens us. A divided force is a weak one. God is a God of unity. We need each other.
2.We live in a self focused society. We can go to church and not invest in anyone. We go, get our needs met, and go home. It’s about us, not necessarily others.
3.Our worship gatherings attract broken, hurting, and some really messed up people. Just like our natural families there are some awkward people we are related to. We are probably someone’s awkward person. It tests our love and patience to deal with people who don’t always act like Jesus or we have nothing other than Jesus in common with.
4. We are taught to care for our natural families, not our spiritual family. However, the Bible says, “Mourn with those who mourn, rejoice with those who rejoice,” Romans 12:15. We read in Philippians 2:4, “Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.”
5. We are too busy. I don’t know about you, but getting to know people takes time, energy, and resources. We have to make time for people. It can be tiring. We are not called to strive, but to make an effort to bless other believers.
6. It can be messy. If you’ve been a Christian long enough, you’ve probably been hurt by another believer. It’s painful for we expect people who are Christians to act like Jesus. That is not always the case. Hurt feelings, offense, betrayal, it can can happen. We learn boundaries with our natural families, and we need boundaries with our spiritual family. Some relationships can be damaging, toxic, or unhealthy. Wisdom, boundaries, and counsel may be needed in dealing with people.
Have you ever been to someone else’s family gatherings? I have. My family has been disinterested in celebrating holidays since my mum passed. So, year after year I have either hosted my own gathering with people from church or been invited to other people’s homes. Some are welcoming. Others though the intentions are good, have left me to feel like the stray someone picked up and it’s a pity meal. You don’t really fit. You don’t really belong. You are a guest. You don’t have the same privileges as the regular family and it’s awkward. God intentionally set us in a big church family. So, no person is a misfit. No person in His family is to feel like a stray. Every believer in Christ is an equal heir to Christ’s inheritance. There are only adopted children, each one wanted, cherished, and desired.
I love the movie The Blind Side. Micheal became a real member of their family. He wasn’t a guest, a pity case, but a loved child. He was chosen to be a part of a family. They treated him the same way they did their other children. God did that with us. He calls us to do the same for others.
If you are a part of a community believers, I encourage you to start investing in the lives of the people around you. Get to know them and treat them like family. If you see a person who’s lonely, be a friend. If you’re a married couple with kids, I encourage you to befriend singles and not just other couples with kids. If you’re a single person, reach out to married couples. We are supposed to be a family. Protect each other. Encourage each other. Mourn with each other. Rejoice with one another. Don’t simply look out for your own interests, but the interests of others. Ask God who you can bless and be on the lookout for opportunities to be like Jesus to those around you.
P.S My friend Virginia wrote an excellent book called Single Not Separate, How to make church more like a family. Check it out. http://www.amazon.com/Single-Not-Separate-makethe-church/dp/0884199290