Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Fellowship as Family

(Submitted by Pastor Van)
In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has seen God at any time; if we love one another, God abides in us, and His love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in Him and He in us, because He has given us of His Spirit. 1 John 4:10-13 NASB

There are those who state proudly that they are Christians, but they don’t “do church.”  Theologian Paul Tournier once said there are two things one cannot do alone – be married and be a Christian.  He is right.  The essence of being a Christian is not an extended set of correct doctrinal beliefs or even well-formed personal character.  To be a Christian is to be connected to Christ in such a unique and special way that all other relationships are defined by that union. The perfect triune fellowship of God as Father, Son, and Spirit from eternity past has been opened to me by the blood of Jesus at Calvary.  But I cannot experience their fellowship in isolation from all others who have been called into it. 
Having others around is not a nuisance but a necessity for families.  These interactions shape us. We sing and read, stand and bow, laugh and cry. And, yes, we certainly eat and drink together.  But we do all these things as a gathering of family members.  A church is a body of believers whose identity is not contained in itself but is found in the God who has formed it.  We are the community of the children of God!  We carry his spiritual DNA.  We bear his name.  We have a great inheritance. Awareness of these things makes a difference in how we see ourselves and function in this world. 
Perhaps if more of us saw ourselves as children of God rather than members of the church, we would claim a nobler inheritance.  If we understood church as persons in relationship rather than names on the roll, we would function differently as the church.  If we saw sin as the breaking of relationships rather than the breaking of rules, we would both live better and deal with one another more gracefully. 
Does anyone doubt that the church would have far greater credibility with our not-yet-Christian neighbors if we modeled this sort of behavior consistently?  Positive relational activities count for more than our abilities to sing, preach or prove ourselves correct to those not-yet-Christians. We have been our own worst enemies over the years in neglecting these relational demands of our faith.
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. Colossians 3:12-14 
There is no greater honor to which a human could aspire than to be part of the Family of God. To have him as our Father. To sit at the table where there is always abundance. And where there is always room for others.  You see, I don’t “do church” either.
Scripture to Claim:
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God!” “And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

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