At what great cost have we gained so little. We have ruled out 95% of the life of a family in our formality and in our quest to keep up appearances that meet the worldâ€™s approval.
I think we need to look past sizing up the importance of contributionsâ€“and the methods of these contributionsâ€“based on how they make us appear in the eyes of the world (and the eyes of those who are careless in their journey). Is speaking the only way to function (must all be mouths)?
And we cannot do this without also considering the environment we craft and choose for our gathering. I mean both physically and the atmosphere we create by our level of formality. Just the idea that a meeting â€œstartsâ€ and now everyone must shut up, only 1 person may speak from here on, and everyone must give undivided attention, and no one must move or do anything without permissionâ€“oh how very weird for a family to act like this together! These have a great impact in shutting out the natural functions of these important members of His body.
Sure, at a family reunion, someone may ask for everyoneâ€™s attention for a few moments. But it would be rare. Most often, people cuddle up in groups and jabber away, sometimes dragging someone over to join in on some particular point. No one is excluded from functioning in the most natural ways.
Look around, and you will see love and tenderness being meted out generously. You will see the young caring for the old, the children laughing and playing with freedom and security, the men sometimes pulling aside, the women, too, but the gathering continues to flex and flow as everyone interacts, gives, receives, appreciates, enjoys, loves.
There was one family, but it was not a singular meeting in an artificial, formal manner, and so all contributed in constantly shifting collections of people. Think back and recall the family times together with uncles and aunts and nieces, cousins, and nephews and gramma and grampa. Remember the chaotic, ordered, joy of being together? Who has such thoughts of Sundays at 11 AM to noon?
In the end, everyone was fed a meal, everyone found acceptance, everyone contributed in many ways at various opportunities that presented themselves quite naturally throughout the time together. Serviceâ€“caring for the needs of othersâ€“is highly valued and esteemed in these families. All felt themselves an important part of being together; all had a place. Even those unskilled in public oratory.
If the church is a family (and I think it is, not just metaphorically, but really), then shouldn’t we look and act like a family, even when we meet together? One of the great things about what Art said above is that it is often difficult to tell where he’s talking about a family reunion and where he’s talking about a church meeting.