It’s almost the season of Thanksgiving and family meals and holiday gatherings and to be honest, this used to be a source of stress for me. Family can be a messy thing. Suddenly you are confronted with people that you’ve spent all year long avoiding - and many for good reason.
Years ago I had begun to avoid my church family too. I was questioning the whole point of this ancient institution. But after returning from a wonderful time at a family reunion, I suddenly realized: that is what church is! It’s where family members show up. You don’t want to be that uncle who never comes, or the cousin who is always too busy to travel the distance. Be the one who shows up. And the Bible tells us to not just show up to the family reunion, but to also fiercely protect the unity there.
We are to allow NO divisions. No silly quarrels that would cause others to avoid coming around.
I had to ask myself - am I about family unity or has it become about my individual ego? Is it more important for me to love or to be “right”? Do I show up when it's only convenient for me?
I asked myself: what did Jesus teach?
He taught reconciliation.
Love others with actions and not just words.
Be present! That is what Christ did - he showed up. In person. To the messiest of family reunions.
We cannot afford to allow politics, shallow opinions, gossip, cultural differences of differing tastes to create separation in what Christ has united. Hold the line with your brothers and sisters on what matters most to God: UNITY. Sin separates but love unites. Anger drives a wedge but love forgives. We are called to bless others! Bless and do not curse. Let your love be evident to all (even the annoying grumpy family members)! God is among us and our Father desires peace in the family.
There can be no peace in the world if there is no peace in our hearts. Christ came to establish peace there first so that we can then establish it in our Christian family and beyond. It will never come from the outside in. The church family is to be the epicenter of the peace and unity God wants to show the whole world.
So be fierce about unity and stay connected to the source of your peace, then bring it with you to your spiritual family reunions as well as your earthly ones this season!
“And everything I have taught you is so that the peace which is in me will be in you and will give you great confidence as you rest in me. For in this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrows, but you must be courageous, for I have conquered the world!” John 16:33
-Kelly Joyce (a messy but grateful member of the COBI family)