Family. I love the sound of that word. Why? Because I believe the word family embodies the picture of God’s plan for His people. Are we perfect? No. Do we always get along? Sadly, no. Do we have occasional squabbles and disagreements? Sure.
Yet these things are a natural part of family life, aren’t they? I’ve never run into a family that never had a moment of tension. Yet in our imperfections, as we progressively grow in the character of Jesus Christ, we know that the things which unite us are far more important than the things which may occasionally divide us.
Here is what God’s Word says about us: we’ve received “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” we were chosen in Christ “before the foundation of the world,” and “in love He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved” (Eph. 1:3-6). The many gifts and blessings poured down on us through God’s mercy are not just what we’ve received individually, but collectively as a part of God’s household (Eph. 2:19-22).
So a local church is not a restaurant, where individual Christians show up for a good meal and quickly return to living in separation from life together on mission with other believers. A Christ-follower in sincere covenant with other believers in a local church will also not loosely hop from “restaurant” to “restaurant” looking for a more appealing meal. No, the local church is not a restaurant; it’s a family. A family stays together, loves each other, and works together toward a central goal because they know the value of the whole is more than the sum of each individual part. And dare I say, the value of a local church is not in the sum of its pastor or pastors – it’s in Christ who is the Head of the Church, and this is seen through His love displayed in all the members together as one family in Him.
This is precisely why the apostle Paul exhorted the local church in Ephesus to…
“…walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as also you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:1b-6)
So in a culture filled with discordant and ruptured families, Christ’s saving grace has brought us into the one family of God. By the Spirit’s power, we can now live on His mission together in the harmonic notes of the Gospel. As individual people who’ve received God’s love in Christ, we can now collectively show God’s love to each other and display it to those who, perhaps, have never seen His love.
By the Spirit’s power, we can now live on His mission together in the harmonic notes of the Gospel.
Each local church membership directory does not merely represent a collection of names, faces, and job assignments – it displays a portrait of a family of believers living and worshiping together for God’s glory.
My prayer this year is that we will grow together in Jesus as we love one another and go reach the lost with the gospel of Jesus Christ, our Redeemer and Lord.
If you want to know a little more about our local church family, North Park Baptist Church of Grand Rapids, here’s a short video that explains our core mission as followers of Jesus: