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I remember having some friends growing up who always felt more like family. You couldn’t enter their home without being drawn in and made to feel like you were a part of them, a part of their family.
And I think that is how the church is supposed to be.
When we come together as the body of Christ, when we come open and willing to see what God will do, when we come accepting and praying and seeking instead of judging and comparing, there is a special thing that happens. We become family.
We become the body of Christ.
When we commit to following Jesus and commit to being a part of His church, to walking out the days of our lives with the members of His church that He has called us to be with, we will see ourselves knit together in love. One of the most profoundly supernatural things I have witnessed is a group of very different people who are knit together in love through Jesus.
"For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ….For the body does not consist of one member but of many.”
1 Corinthians 12:12;14
We are the body of Christ. The church, knit together by love, is the body of Christ. We are the body of Christ.
"Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.”
1 Corinthians 12:27
This is the great mystery of the church. God builds His church and bonds it together with a love that is surprising and cannot be explained any other way than through Him. Sometimes I look around at my church family, and find myself in awe. Who could ever script this combination of lives lived together and call it beautiful? And I know that the answer is, “Only Jesus. And He has made it is beautiful."
Without Jesus, we can form groups and societies and programs that are unique and interesting, but we will never become the family of love that Jesus can make us. He can take people with almost nothing in common but Him and bind them together with love so strong that it is astounding. He can take our unique gifts and personalities and talents and perspectives and knit them together into a body that can function and serve each other and the world for His glory.
Only Jesus can take people so different, so varied, so incompatible and make them a family that is characterized first and foremost by love.
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
I look around our little church some Sundays to see so many faces I feircly love, and yet if I step back just half an inch from my own inside perspective it looks so strange. Nothing about my background or personality or birthplace on the planet points to these people being the ones I call family. But as I’ve showed up week after week, year after year, pouring my heart and time into these people, Jesus has knit my heart so tightly to their’s in love. His love.
If we allow Him to knit us together, He will. He will take the most diverse combinations of people and bind our hearts together, creating us into His church. Creating us into an imperfect bride through which He can display His love for the world.
He takes our unique backgrounds and beliefs and talents and gifts and turns them into a body, functioning as one, for one purpose. That purpose is His glory and praise.
Because of that purpose, this beautiful family is intended to constantly welcome and grow, to pull in and envelop anyone who will come close, just like that family I knew as a child. We the church are intended to become a tight knit family who will embrace as family every new member whom God brings.
But for every joy of love and bond of family, there will be equal pain and hurt and sorrow. But it will be worth it. It will be worth it in the moments you get to raise your eyes and see your family, all broken and mismatched and messy, worshiping together and loving each other in a way that can only be explained by pointing to Jesus.
We are the Church of Jesus.
We are family.
We are the body of Christ.
We are the bride in preparation for her Groom.
We are gifted love and unity by Him; let’s seek Him and press into the family He has given us.
It’s crazy how we tend to avoid the things that are good for us.
Exercise (“eggs-are-sides for bacon,” anyone?)
And even community
When I say community, I’m not talking about the guys you play sports with once a week, or the yoga class you go to (though those things aren't bad). The community I’m speaking of is regularly being with a group of people that you will commit to share struggles with, to hold each other accountable to what is best, and to serve each other in speech and in action.
That type of community is hard. But it is vitally important to your walk with Jesus.
The Bible talks a lot about how we are to live with “one another”. Over and over again it tell us to be in unity, to love one another, to show humility towards each other, to encourage each other, and to hold each other accountable. In fact, it’s used 100 times in the New Testament (here’s a great article breaking down all the times it’s used).
However, it’s hard to live with “one another” when we push away opportunities to engage in community. And by choosing to not live in community, we are specifically going against many of the things the Bible tells us are necessary for our Christian walk.
No doubt about it, this type of community is difficult. It requires us to be open, and honest, to desire others' good above our own, and to allow other people to call us out when they see problems in our lives. This means that our biggest problems will have to be dealt with, and that we will have to be gracious towards others as we lovingly help them with theirs as well. But it’s worth it.
This type of community has three main purposes:
"By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
In addition to all of the personal benefits we gain from community, we also need to remember the bigger picture: Jesus has asked us to be in community to better reach the lost.
So, whatever you preference may be, I encourage you to find Christian community at Redemption Church and to not only join a community group, but invest in it. Invest your time, your money, your gifts, your emotion, your love - into the people in your group. I guarantee you that you will draw nearer to Jesus than ever before and will know His love more completely when you do this.
Lets commit to truly live in community together. To...