A BIG FAMILY
If you are over the age of thirty, when you hear the words “Family matters” a four-word question probably comes to mind… “Did I do that?” The catchphrase made famous by the character Steve Urkel on the American sitcom that aired in the ‘90’s called Family Matters. It is no secret that family is very important, family does matter, and there are a number of benefits that come from having a close-knit family. I love my family, I am grateful for my family, I am blessed with my family. And the same feelings should be expressed towards our spiritual family in Christ. The spiritual family that God has blessed us with here in this life that we should all appreciate.
A member of the church was once visited by a man who was going door to door trying to get people to be a part of a nationwide association. One of this man’s selling points was the idea of being anywhere in the country and having people a phone call away in case something happened as one travelled. The member of the church replied, “I already have that.” Being puzzled by this response, the salesman attempted to make himself more clear, emphasizing that literally anywhere in the country, people who cared about him and were also a part of this organization, would be available and would help him if he were ever in need. The member of the church informed the salesman that because he was a Christian, he did have people (members of the Lord’s church) all over the country that were there for him. Because the salesman was not a Christian, he did not understand the relationships that can be had and the love that can be felt within the Lord’s church.
Growing up in the denominational world, it did not feel like the people I saw on Sunday were my family. We were just people who saw each other once a week and really did not have any relationship outside of that. When I became a part of a very large church in Tucson, a church who claimed to be non-denominational but had very denominational beliefs and practices, it always seemed like I was just a number in the crowd. I am not saying this to shame or put down those denominations. I am just saying that being a member of those organizations was in no way, shape, or form even close to what I now have being a member of the Lord’s church.
The moment I obeyed the Gospel I was showered with love and support, the same love and support my family and I have received here at Tomlinson Run from the moment we got here, and I hope we have reciprocated that love to each and every one of you in return. But in the beginning of my walk as a Christian, all that love and support I got from the church puzzled me. I thought things like “Why do these people love me so much? Why do they care? Why have they accepted me with open and loving arms?” Those people didn’t know me, and they didn’t even try to get to know me before they showered me with love. They didn’t know all the evil I had done in my life, and yet they loved me anyway. They didn’t see the then 22-year-old hooligan that others might have seen when they first met me, they saw me as a new brother in Christ. To them I was family. When my family and I left Arizona to preach the Gospel, we knew two things: God would be with us, and we would have family anywhere we went.
I can sympathize with the salesman who could not register what he was hearing when he was told that Christians were as close as that man was claiming them to be. Had I heard that prior to being blessed with a proper relationship with the Lord and a relationship with His people, I myself would have said “Yea right.” But now I see.
Christianity is unique, there is nothing else like it. Not only does God bless us with a relationship with Him, He blesses us with others of like precious faith who want to be like Him and be with Him for all eternity as well. In the church there is more than just a physical love, we have a love for each other’s soul. People whose greatest concern is making it to Heaven and helping others get their as well. Our spiritual family matters, and there are things we can do to make sure this family stays strong.
ENCOURAGEMENT IN THE FAMILY
Encouragement is always good; I can’t think of a time where encouragement is not beneficial. We must build each other up (1 Thessalonians 5:11) and encourage one another to fight the good fight, to finish the race, and to keep the faith (2 Timothy 4:7). From the elders to new babes in Christ, all deserve and benefit from good, spiritual encouragement.
GRATITUDE IN THE FAMILY
Not only showing gratitude when things are done for us, but also showing gratitude just for having each other in our lives, being most grateful for the God who loves us and brought us all together.
LOVE IN THE FAMILY
God is love, and we are God’s people. There should always be love within the Lord’s church because we are blessed like no other. We should love each other enough to pray for and be there for each other (1 John 4:7).
UNITY IN THE FAMILY
God hates division and He certainly does not want it in His family. Paul preaches against the factions that were being formed in Corinth, and proclaimed God’s desire for unity to the Ephesians. Unity is important to God and it should be important to us to be properly united with Him as well as His people.
It has been said, “It’s a small world” when someone runs into someone they know, or two people have a mutual friend. It is a small world, but in the Lord’s church it’s just a big family.