It is not easy being part of a family. Just because you came from the same common source does not mean that you look alike, talk alike or think alike. Each person has different interests different friends and different habits. Arguments are a natural way of life as family learns to accept and appreciate each other. Each individual is unique and yet there is the common bond of family that keeps everyone tied together for the rest of their lives, whether they like it or not. Family takes effort, sometimes a lot of effort to make it work. It never works by accident. I am describing the Church.
The reason people come and go in a church is because they do not see it as family and miss out on what the Lord intended us to experience in these relationships that are suppose to be deep and unbreakable. Sometimes it is the least little thing that sets us off and if we do not have that sense of family connecting us through the bond of the Holy Spirit, it takes no effort to walk away. Our commitment and love is first to our Lord Jesus Christ but it is also to each other. If you do not see this in your study on the New Testament then you have not been studying well.
We have a responsibility to each other, especially the more mature with the less mature. The Word tells us that our responsibility is to help them along with a lot of grace, love and forgiveness. It is not our place to judge and condemn. This organism is often not treated as family but more like a corporation or even an army. The younger siblings are treated like recruits and the older siblings take on power and authority that does not belong to them. This is not the design of the Church as we are told to bear the failings of the weak as we teach them. To the Romans Paul wrote:
We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves. (Romans 15:1)
The the Ephesians he wrote:
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. (Ephesians 4:2)
I could fill this entry with verse after verse, encouraging us to be responsible for each other, to stick with each other, not to give up on each other because family just never says quit. So this leads us to the final word in the epistle of James:
My brothers, if one of you should wander from the truth and someone should bring him back, remember this: Whoever turns a sinner from the error of his way will save him from death and cover over a multitude of sins. (James 5:19-20)
Often in the Church, when someone falls away from the truth and impales themselves on sin, people stand back, point fingers and talk. But that is not the way we do things in the family. When someone is hurt we tend to them. When someone is in need we make quick supply. When someone is lost we go and find them. As brothers and sisters we do not turn our back and walk away, especially when they are lost and they are in danger of death. We forget about what is convenient to us and we set aside our comforts and we step into the dark, cold and lonely night to find them and bring them back, because they are family.
When we begin to see the Church in this perspective we will begin to contribute in a way that will benefit everyone. We will take our proper place in people's lives as their brother or sister. Remember the words of Jesus:
He replied to him, "Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?" Pointing to his disciples, he said, "Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother." (Matthew 12:48-50)
Family, Plain and simple. As long as we act like a corporation we will never get the point. As long as we act like some kind of social or community center we will never get the point. As long as we stand at arms length from each other we will never get the point. But I pray all that will change and we will get the point and welcome in a better vision and life in the Church, the family of God.