A Little Family Time

What emotions come to mind if you had the thought of spending a few days, in the same house, with people in the church that you barely know?  I hope I’m not revealing too much about myself (being alone in my shame), and that you’re not offended in me saying that I would have a sense of awkward and nervous dread.

Don’t get me wrong, I love people – working with them and visiting during the day – but I also look forward to a little me-time, or family-time in the evening, where I can relax and… be myself.  And it’s not that we’re not ourselves around others, but we tend to be more of “us” around… us.

With this in mind, do you see the church as family?  God does.  In 1 Timothy 3, one of the qualifications given for elders and deacons, is that each should be able to manage his own household.  And the thought is, “If someone does not know how to manage his own household (family), how will he care for God’s church?” (3:5).  Then in verse 15, Paul uses this same word to describe the church – “…how one ought to behave in the household (family) of God…”.

Think of it!  We are brothers and sisters not simply at the end of the day, but for all eternity.  And yet… no offense, but this doesn’t sound very appealing.  And the reason it doesn’t, is sin. 

But the good news is that in eternity we won’t be burdened with sin, and we’ll perfectly love one another, and truly enjoy being together all the time.  Until then, there’s a lot of opportunity for practice, and God intends this time to be for the sake of His glory, and our joy.

Jesus tells us that people will know we belong to Him by the way we love one another (John 13:35).  The way we love as family-members (or, the household of God), is a strong witness to the world.  And this doesn’t mean there are never problems in the church, but it does mean that we deal with them in ways that stand out as unusually loving.

The world knows what family battles and divisions look like, and when they see this kind of family stuff going on in the church, they expect similar reactions and results.  But, when they see forgiveness, and people patiently bearing with one another… when they see love and encouragement, and overlooking an offense… when they see people assuming the best instead of the worst in each other, they will say, “Wow, now that’s how a family should be!  Look at how they love one another.  There’s something special going on in there.”

But this doesn’t just happen without some intentional effort and reliance upon God.  Unless we are being changed (Rom. 12:2) from worldly attitudes and responses, into brothers and sisters who think and act like Jesus… it’ll never happen.  So, the closer our relationship is to God, the closer we’ll become to one another.

I love how A. W. Tozer describes it:

Has it ever occurred to you that one hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically tuned to each other? They are of one accord by being tuned, not to each other, but to another standard to which each one must individually bow. So one hundred worshipers met together, each one looking away to Christ, are in heart nearer to each other than they could possibly be were they to become “unity” conscious and turn their eyes away from God to strive for closer fellowship.

So don’t just work at Christian unity and love, but instead work at being conformed into the image of Jesus, and you’ll grow in Christian unity and love.  And as we do, maybe we’ll look forward to some family time each Sunday… and throughout the week, as we see one another in God’s kingdom. – Pastor Brian