“The Knee Bone’s Connected to the Thigh Bone…”
Church, as we know it in the twenty-first century, is a far cry from the way it began. Jesus commissioned His disciples to go and preach the gospel to anyone and everyone who would listen. They did so by gathering together in private homes where they could lean on each other for guidance as they lived out the Christian life. The Early Church grew exponentially during this time; maybe one of the reasons was because the familial atmosphere was inviting and fulfilling. God created us for community, and what better way to experience that than with fellow believers? We have been given the same opportunity in church today; the question is whether we will be vulnerable enough to take advantage of it.
The word “family” probably causes your mind to spin—in both positive and negative directions. Most likely, though, it is a positive spin. It causes you to reflect on how your family has impacted your life and shaped you into the person you are today. On that note, allow me to say that not all family shares the same DNA. I realize that some biological members have been, shall we say, useless. Difficult to swallow but hard truth, nonetheless.
Life and experience have taught me that family is so much more than sharing a blood relative. Those not-so-great family members could have directly contributed to the connections you now have with folks whom you consider your most cherished family. God designed the Church to be just that. People connected by life and blood. His blood. If we are humble enough to admit that we are all equal on the playing field of life, we will discover that the burdens are lighter and the perspective is clearer.
Now that we’ve established what family is, why does it matter in the context of a local body? First and foremost, to love. Nobody loves you like family. They’ll be right there when you’re on top of the world or down in the gutter. There’s also the touchy subject of forgiveness. None of us have it all together, regardless of what social media portrays! Blunders are inevitable. So when we make a colossal mistake, our church family should be there to advise us in love then forgive us to help us move forward. Whether that mistake affected a fellow believer or someone else, we are to forgive and show grace. Talk about the opposite of human nature!
Grace is not what we deserve, but sometimes, it is exactly what we need. Impossible? Only if you can’t hear or refuse to acknowledge God’s voice. It is precisely what Jesus did for us at the cross. We didn’t deserve it, but He knew we needed it.
Family also loves you even when you don’t want to be loved…and it can be annoying. I’ve been in this position more than any other. Sometimes the pain of a situation is so intense that absolutely no amount of concern eases the agony; being miserable and critical is simply the easiest choice. Accountability and spiritual growth are also two key components of being connected to a church body. After all, how are we supposed to grow if no one holds us accountable to the standards we’ve made a commitment to follow?
One last reason I believe connection is a must: Human beings thrive when they feel they belong. Everyone should have the ability to do what they are gifted to do in an environment where they can grow. We are hard-wired to belong! When the Church nurtures each member, it is a beautiful display of God’s love circulating throughout the body.
The Word tells us that every member makes up the whole; whether you find yourself a powerful femur, a supportive little toe, or a delicate fingernail, embrace it! Our roles may change as we grow in Him, but our worth never will.
Featured Image by Robin Spielmann