Church is a family. Or….it’s supposed to be…
Because, let’s face it, most days, church does NOT feel like family. In fact, sometimes, the people at church are the last people you want to spend time with. From cliques to gossip to petty arguments and preconceived notions, the church on the inside doesn’t look much different than the world on the outside.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way.
Now, I know, it would be incredibly easy to list all of the reasons why Jane isn’t acting like she should or how Joe snubbed you when he walked in last week. “How rude!” The root of the problem, however, lies within ourselves. We have to be willing to be family even when no one else is, especially when no one else is.
So what does that mean? What does it look like to be a church family?
Think about your actual family – your flesh and blood, your spouse, parents, siblings, children, etc. – that family. A few months back, taking a look at how my own personal family functioned opened my eyes to how the church should truly be acting.
My family drives me crazy, absolutely bonkers…think Animaniacs on steroids kind of crazy. But I love them anyways.
My husband doesn’t do everything the way that I think it should be done. But I love him anyways.
My daughter does not respect my personal space, yells at me, and demands she gets her own way (yes, at only a year and a half). *Insert winky face here.* But I love her anyways.
My husband says things when he is angry that should never leave his mouth (to be fair….so do I). But I love him anyways.
Some in my family haven’t always treated me with respect. In fact, in the past, some have been downright rude, uncivil, and incredibly hurtful. But I love them all anyways. And….I’ve forgiven each and every one of them.
I can be absolutely ridiculous – mean, disrespectful, whiney, and completely devoid of compassion. But they all love me anyways.
We fight. We argue. We disagree. But at the end of the day….well, maybe after a few days…. we still love each other. And things go back to the way they were (or better) eventually. We forgive. We look past the hurt, we look past the imperfections, and we embrace the good that we see. We don’t hold yesterday against them. We pray for them. We encourage them. We love them for who they are now and for where they are going (even if the steps they are taking are barely shuffles forward).
I realize that sometimes it doesn’t always end that way. Sometimes the hurt is too deep and their actions don’t change. Maintaining those family bonds means we still keep pushing forward. We still love, but we love them in a different way. Sometimes we still make it work….even if it’s only because we have to.
If we can do all of the above and more for our flesh and blood, why can’t we do the same for our church family? I have mentioned before that faith is thicker than blood. Look around your church – you will be spending eternity with some of those people – guaranteed! And, unfortunately, that doesn’t always hold true for your flesh and blood. Don’t you think we should make peace with people this side of Heaven? I am positive that this is what Christ wants from us. I’m not talking the fake kind of peace – where you smile at Jane and shake hands, telling her how much you love her outfit, and then comment to your spouse about the way-too-tight skirt and awful red lipstick she was wearing. I’m talking about really making peace with people – talking about our hurts and working through our problems, forgiving others and treating them with respect even when they won’t do the same.
When they upset or offend you, love them anyways.
When they treat you with disrespect and rudeness, love them anyways.
When they _________________,
I came across a Facebook post from a friend of mine and it stopped me in my tracks. After getting her permission, I wanted to share her words with you:
“There should be more kindness. There should be more acceptance. There should be more loving each other where we are. There should be more love. There should be more help. There should be more willing spirits. There should be more encouragement. There should be more community. There should be more giving. What aren’t we doing this??”
WHY AREN’T WE DOING THIS??
It starts within. Within ourselves. Within our own church. Within THE church.
We can’t get this right outside of our walls if we don’t get it right on the inside. In fact, if we were doing this right, people would long to be a part of what we have.
BE the church. BE the family. BE the good you want to see.