Church as family
by beatrice ofwona
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The church family belongs to God for we are His adopted children. We have been washed by the blood of Jesus Christ and must as such see our importance to the Almighty; that He gave His only Son for us and our salvation. Jesus shed His blood for us. His blood knows no race, no color, no creed no preference. All those that have sinned are washed by this same blood if they desire to be forgiven. As such, all those that have been through this process ought to love one another and be united as a family of God. Why then do we behave as if we are in some war zone?
What the church needs the most is godly love as laid out in the book of 1 Corinthians 13:1-10; that true love is patient, does not envy nor boast, is not proud, self-seeking, not easily angered and keeps no record of wrongs. It does not delight in evil but rejoices in truth, it always trusts hopes, perseveres and never fails.
We must also know that we will face threats and these will come from class, caste, cliquesim or even tribalism we must stand out in our sphere of influence. James 2:1-4 discourages us from showing favoritism that we should not treat those that have better than those that do not have. These are deep concerns found within the community as well as in local assemblies. We only tend to relate with friends and acquaintances and leave other lonely people unattended in churches; further more, certain gifted people who may otherwise have been used to benefit the whole church go back home, ignored, with their gifts.
Those vulnerable amongst us are the most ignored like the physically challenged, blind, aged, widowed, orphaned, diseased and the like. Sometimes we even fail to engage the crippled in conversation and instead choose to ask the one pushing the wheel chair questions concerning them as though they were unable to talk for themselves! As adopted children of God who know the Word, we should know better, but we behave as if we do not.
A pastor shared how a crippled believer got a challenge when she was unable to be baptized after salvation because the pool was high up and no special facilities had been fixed to accommodate her condition. Churches need to be mindful of and sensitive to the whole congregation if we are to spread the Gospel of Christ to all.
Family should be a place of worth, a place we can be vulnerable and not be embarrassed; a place of closeness, a place of security, a place of acceptance, a place where we are not measured by our sizes or by the cars we drive, a place we can be free to worship God in spirit and in truth. Within this family, we each have an obligation to show love to another. We must all be involved, individually and corporately; we must be able to see what needs to be changed and go right ahead and change it.
Cliques are formed within ministries and involve only a few who are thought to be right for it. This practice has killed many ministries as church members, who do not ‘fit in’ drop off from service attendance. This is favoritism at its finest and is discouraged in the Scriptures. A Christian without a church family to belong to is a spiritual orphan and hence vulnerable to the attacks of the enemy.
Racism and closer still is tribalism; the two deadliest blows that we dent those who are ‘unlike us’. An African pastor, who got a dose of racism, shared how he and his wife traveled to one of the Western countries and got invited to the local church. When he arrived with his wife, they soon realized that they were the only black people in that church. All eyes turned on them and escorted them to where he sat next to an angry looking couple who quickly moved away from them. Suddenly, unable to bare this terrible intrusion, the couple walked out in a huff carrying their big Bible, totally displeased with their local pastor for having dared invite two black people into their church! One can only wonder at their understanding of this big Book that they carried and of Christ and His all-embracing love!
When you allow the seed of racism to grow in you, you also develop the capability of killing your own brother. This seed brings great hindrance to unity in the church yet Christ Himself looks at all of us as equal whether we be black, white or yellow because He died for those we look down upon just as He died for us. Gossiping about each other’s differences as if we did not belong to the same church family, is wrong to say the least. We have even allowed ourselves to look at others with a myopic vision of our own cultures and God is unhappy with us.
We must therefore begin the change within ourselves and in our sphere of influence. What kind of children, for instance, are we raising in our own homes? What are we teaching our children about other people and especially those who are ‘different’ from us?
As Christians, we are supposed to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. True love is a test of love borne of God. We can only produce after our kind. If we are His kind, then we shall produce His kind. True love flows from a sense of God; He is the Supreme object of our love. True love is divine and human love comes from it.
When we fail to love then it becomes clear that we do not know that God Himself is love and He can never be a source of hatred, malice or jealousy; that is of the evil one. We must each take personal responsibility to show and spread the love of Christ. He commanded us, as His followers, to love one another and it is our choice to relate or not to relate to others. We are the ones who will choose to spear head this command in order for the church family to be seen as different and shinning like a bright light. John 5:14-16 says, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven”.
(Word count 1121)
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