Last week, I wrote about getting together with my larger family. This week I want to write about the same thing, only bigger. I want to talk about getting together with the larger church family.
I love the church where I serve, Fern Creek Christian. I love the diversity of folks. I love the opportunity to share life. I love how we are able to grow and serve together. But it’s also good to think about the fact that church is much bigger than just the people I see on Sunday. The Church is so much bigger, and makes more of a difference, than I can see — because the Church is so much bigger than just you and me.
I got to experience this, once again, at this year’s North American Christian Convention. The NACC is a gathering of several thousand folks who are striving to simply be Christians — followers of Jesus. At the NACC, we worship, we we are challenged & encouraged, and we see old friends and make new ones. In a nutshell, we are reminded that Christ’s Church is alive and well all over this country, and the world.
And as I reflect on why I love (and need) the larger church family, let me share these five things:
- We are family, no matter what. Our church family belongs together, because we need each other. Is life always easy, just because we follow Jesus? No. But we find ourselves needing others for the journey, precisely because it can be difficult. Church is the one place we should expect to experience love (even if it has to be tough love) — because family loves each other, no matter what.
- What unites us as a family is more important than what divides us. In church today, it is pretty easy to focus on the things we disagree about. The list is endless. But what holds us together must be stronger than what would pull us apart. Church is the place where we drawn together — and held together — because of Jesus. And Church must also be the place where what pulls us apart — our preferences, our wishes, and our feelings — never comes before the unity that we have in Jesus. What holds us together is not that we agree on everything; it’s that we agree on our need for Jesus.
- It’s really cool watching the church family grow. Is there anything more exciting than someone in your family having a baby? Is there anything more exciting than seeing a church give birth to new life in Christ? There is simply something wonderful about seeing new life begin. Church is that place — where we get a front row seat to watch people begin a life in Christ, and then watch them grow — physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
- Life is better with others you love. And Church is the place where we get to learn how to walk in the way of love. Can you think of any better thing to “walk in”?
- Laughter and joy should come naturally. Who has more reason to live life joyfully, full of hopeful laughter, than Jesus-followers? While at the NACC, I saw Tim Hawkins in concert. And I’m not ashamed to say that I laughed til I cried. Do you need a smile (or a belly laugh)? Give Tim a try. Life is meant to be joyful. Sure it has its times of sadness and pain. But faith recognizes that there is something deeper, something more meaningful than our hurt. Joy does not ignore life’s struggles; it simply knows a deeper truth — that we do not face the worst alone. We face them with Jesus in us and his people beside us.
If you’ve read this far, you might notice that my five points are exactly the same as in my previous post. (Just scroll down a few inches and you’ll see what I mean.) That’s because Church, when done right, is family. Church is not simply like family; it is family. For it is the place where we experience grace and love from God, and from each other. And by that love, we are changed.