It was a bit ironic to me as a stood up to preach on the subject of family that I had my parents and two of my children sitting and listening. How rare and wonderful that, normally separated by a couple of time zones and over a thousand miles, we were all able to be together in the same worship service! It makes me long for heaven, when we can be in the presence of God in eternal adoration of Him and sweet fellowship with one another. Being together with family is a blessing many of us take for granted and can maybe only fully appreciate when it tends more toward the exception than the rule.
One of the many incredible facets of God’s perfect design for the church is that He made us a family. Paul depicts us as fathers, mothers, brothers and sisters (Titus 2:1-4). He refers to it as God’s house (1 Timothy 3:15). Christ is the bond that brings us together, with all our diversities (skin, background, income, education, etc.), to be a spiritual family. The best attributes of family—love, acceptance, encouragement, motivation, understanding, heritage, leadership, unity, sympathy, assistance—come together in God’s family. This is what has always baffled me when I think of brothers and sisters who can stay away from their spiritual family for weeks, months, and years at a time. Who could sustain us and fill the vacuum caused by earthly life like God’s children, our spiritual siblings?
When you look at the church, you perceive it a certain way. I’m convinced you are either drawn to it or repelled by it. You long for her members or loathe them. Certainly, there are the indifferent, the lukewarm, and those who are essentially unfeeling toward other members. But these are steadily moving toward abandoning their family. Their hearts have already done so, if their bodies haven’t yet. The indifferent and hostile may blame the church for their attitude, but we choose our mindset. God puts us in this family (Acts 2:47), a plan He gave to help us successfully survive this life and obtain eternal life. It’s a sign of spiritual health to long to be around, grow closer to, and be in love with the church. Luke records, “And all those who had believed were together…” (Acts 2:44a). What a beautiful picture! We get to enjoy the same blessing today. May we never take it for granted, but relish it.