Last night felt like home. 16 people all huddled up in our living room, talking, laughing, crying, praying; it was glorious. After Bible study ended, my wife and I talked about how our evening felt like a family gathering, like friends hanging out together, but deeper than merely friends. When friends gather together, sharing struggles, sharing victories, asking for prayer, humbly asking each other what the Word says to do in specific situations in life, and encouraging each other in the Truth, something deeper than friendship happens. Family happens.
Is it any wonder that the Church is called the "household of God" and that believers are called "brothers and sisters?" This is not just an analogy; it is a reality. Once Christ saves us, we are made part of His family, adopted into His household, made heirs of His inheritance. After all, it was Jesus Himself Who said, "Whoever does the will of my Father Who is in Heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother." (Matt.
12:50) So, we are brothers and sisters, part of a family established by the blood of Jesus, called together for a purpose. What is that purpose? All across the pages of the New Testament we see the purpose is for equipping, for encouragement, for love, for counsel, for building up what is lacking and mending what is broken, all so that we would look, act, think, and feel more like our Savior, becoming conformed into His image.
Just think about it. How do we grow and become people who are more Christlike in their attitudes and actions? And how do we know that growth is taking place? And how are we able to live out Christlikeness? The only way to do it is with other people. We need people who know us and the struggles and the chaos and the victories of our lives really well. We need people who know us to the depths of our beings so that we can't hide our brokenness and our lacking from them. And we need people who love us, who are unreservedly, unashamedly, and unconditionally committed to us, to our growth and progress such that they won't let us stay the way we are and will carry our burdens every step of the way.
If you don't have people in your life who know you and love in that kind of a deep, intense, open, vulnerable, and intentional way, it is pretty unlikely that you will make serious strides in Christlikeness. We are just too good at deceiving ourselves and thinking too highly of ourselves. That's why we need family. Think about how it is with your own biological family. You can put on a decent "performance" with others outside of your home, but you can't fool your family. They know who you are. They've seen you at your worst. And they love you no matter what. That's exactly what the family of God should be! We should be so devoted to each other, with each other so often like the early church, that we simply can't fool each other. We know each other too well. And we love each other no matter what.
And that's what we experienced last night: a household-like context of living life together in community, as a family, where we are nurtured and developed, our thinking is challenged and sharpened, and we can be real, honest, genuine with each other, not needing to "save face" because we are all family, and we know we are all way more broken and lacking than we even realize. But we also know we are more loved and cared for than we could possibly imagine.
I just LOVE my family!