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Becoming family in Christ together

Posted by on Apr 8, 2011 in community, discipleship, fellowship | 13 comments

Becoming family in Christ together

As I’ve mentioned several times on this blog, I believe that the authors of Scripture used familial language when speaking to and about other Christians for one important reason: they recognized that they were truly family with other believers.

This was not simply the use of familial language for the purpose of rhetoric or persuasion. Instead, they recognized that they were all in a new relationship with God as their father, which automatically placed them in new relationships with one another. Since God was the father of all of them, then they were all truly brothers and sisters.

All of us have, from time to time, found it difficult to live as family with other believers. All of us – regardless of what “type” of church you are part of, or how you meet together, or the type of leadership involved, or what kind of organization and structure exists in the church.

Thus, we can all use help in learning to live as family with one another. Obviously, the work of the Holy Spirit in each of our lives is necessary for us to grow in our relationships with God and with one another. So, the Spirit’s role in becoming family is extremely important.

There are also some very practical steps that we can take to provide opportunities to share our lives with other people and, therefore, to start living as family.

What advise would you give to someone who told you that they wanted to learn to live as family with other believers?


13 Comments

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  1. 4-8-2011

    Of first importance is to spend more time together. Then as we get to know one another more we have to embrace Christ in them, forgive their shortcomings, and seek to outdo each other in service and love.

  2. 4-8-2011

    Like Nike always said… Just do it!!!

    I believe it is busyness that keeps all of us from acting as a family.

    My wife and I cleared our plates to free us up to have time to be with others and to help others. Well, what we found is a pit of loneliness as a family. Everyone is just too busy as individuals to have any time to live and grow together in unification with Him.

    It is a tough one to swallow.

    Swanny

  3. 4-8-2011

    Bobby,

    What do you mean by “spend more time together”? Can you give some examples?

    Swanny,

    “Busyness” is certainly a difficult obstacle to overcome – both busyness in our own lives and in the lives of others. Do you have any suggestions for people who are trying to overcome that obstacle?

    -Alan

  4. 4-8-2011

    The first one that comes to mind, and from personal experience, is that I wish people would stop doing so many “Christian programs”.

    They are considerable “time suckers”, and all they do is keep people busy and acting as individuals. They do not get to know each other and do not have time to grow together as His Bride. It is just an act of gaining tons of knowledge.

    Now I am not saying to stop learning, but I would say learn as you DO. Get out together and experience life together as His Bride.

    So, if people would stop doing life in Christ as a checklist… ok I have my hour of bible study -check, volunteer in the nursery so others can do more programs-check, attend service on Sunday-check, sing-check (ok now that have all that done for the week I am exhausted and need to do something for me.

    Here is a joke to help explain what I am trying to say…

    Hey sweetie, your girlfriend is at the door and said she needs help with something … oh no! tell her I am busy! I have to finish reading “How to be an awesome Christian” before tonight’s class.

    Swanny

  5. 4-8-2011

    I think leadership has a significant role in transitioning from being program centered to relationally centered. The people Paul might call “of reputation” or “influential” (Gal 2) must be strongly oriented towards building relationships. They must know the love of Christ and share it with others. The love they have can’t be feigned or insincere or driven by alternative motives like even the motive to have a “successful church”.

    People should tangibly observe that their needs sometimes trump the planned order of the gathering. If someone walks in to your gathering emotionally distraught, listen to them, pray with them. Take the time to demonstrate your care for them.

    What happens outside the gathering is just as essential as what happens inside the gathering. People become friends by spending time together. Eat with other, play together, babysit each others kids and even go on vacations together.

    A good first step is to invite people over to eat and chat. The goal should not be to become a certain kind of church, but to sincerely and even sacrificially share the love of Christ with others.

  6. 4-8-2011

    I see one of the biggest differences between “church groups” is the amount of grace we give to our family that we don’t extend to our fellow believers in our “spiritual family”. Some in my small group cling to hope, keep encouraging, and never seem to give up on some wayward family members, while at the same time, lose patience, don’t “understand” and stop working with some fellow believers.

  7. 4-8-2011

    Swanny,

    I agree that church programs can hinder relationships. We’ve built relationships with people who were part of the same programs as us, but the relationship/family aspect always grew out of time that we spent together outside of the program.

    Of course, asking people to leave their programs is often thought of as asking people to stop serving God. Do you think it’s possible to begin living as family with people who continue to be part of programs? What do you think someone would have to do to reach out to people who are busy with programs?

    Leighton,

    I agree that leaders can either facilitate or hinder familial type relationships. But, what should people do if their leaders are not interested (or too busy) to help them foster relationships with others? Can they live as family in spite of leadership hindrances or other hindrances? If so, how?

    -Alan

  8. 4-8-2011

    Alan,

    Sure! In order to be more like family we have dinner in one another’s homes or restaurants, help clean and repair things in each others home, share resources (money, books, tools, cars, food) with each other, babysit, listen, advise, counsel, comfort, and pray for each other. I could go on but I think that’s a healthy start.

  9. 4-8-2011

    Alan.. Good questions… I am really trying to figure out how to answer the last one.

    Please do not get me wrong. I am not saying programs are bad, but I am saying that by putting the programs first in your life in fear of not worshipping “correctly” is what i am mainly talking about.

    I am trying to reach out to them, but they are always busy!

    Swanny

  10. 4-8-2011

    Bobby,

    I think those are very good suggestions. Your suggestions point out one thing in particular: in order to live as family, you must be willing to share your normal, everyday life with one another.

    Swanny,

    I understand completely. Building relationships with one another requires spending time together outside of the programs. Of course, if the programs take up all of your life, then it’s hard to share life…

    -Alan

  11. 4-8-2011

    Alan

    You hit the nail on the head. This is one of the biggest struggles I have faced since exiting the “institutional” church system.

    As I continue my walk into the post-institutional wilderness…..

  12. 4-8-2011

    Alan,

    The difference between attending church and being the church is the difference between role playing and real life.

  13. 4-8-2011

    Swanny,

    I’ve found that I’ve been able to help many people by staying connected to both sides of the spectrum.

    Aussie John,

    I think that many people are learning that.

    -Alan