Guest Author - LeeAnn Bonds
The Church. The Saints. A Royal Priesthood. The Body of Christ. A Holy Nation. The Bride of Christ. His Own Special People. The Sheep of His Hand. Christians as a group are called by many names in Scripture, and each is rich with meaning and worthy of contemplation and study. My favorite names, though, are the ones describing us as part of God’s family.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name…John 1:12
We are children of God. He has adopted us and now He is our Abba, our Daddy, as well as our Sovereign Lord and Almighty Creator of the universe. Jesus, in addition to being our Messiah, Savior, Mediator, and the Creator God, is our Brother, and we are joint heirs with Him to all that God has. Mind-blowing concepts, these are. Lie on your back floating in the pool and just think about the idea for a while. The future’s so bright, you’d better wear shades.
Hey, but what about right now? If you’re God’s daughter and I’m God’s daughter, then we’re sisters. Every church all over the planet is filled with my brothers and sisters. I have a humongous family of blood-bought, royal siblings speaking hundreds of different languages, sporting skin tones of every hue, sprinkled in big cities, small villages and desolate wildernesses on every continent.
And the family is real. We love each other—instantly, deeply, inexplicably—we love each other. Let word get out of a tragic accident or dire illness in one little church, and prayer chains will light up across the country and even overseas. From the very beginning of the Christian church, one congregation would collect funds and send them to another congregation in need. Today we send teams to far flung corners all over the world to rebuild churches and homes devastated by natural disaster or war. Many churches distribute food to anyone in need in their community, but all churches take special care of their own. Bags of groceries appear anonymously on the porch of a struggling family. Twenty dollar bills are slipped into the handbag of a single mom. Medical bills get paid, firewood gets delivered. We scold each other’s children and bandage their scrapes. We celebrate new babies and marriages, visit the sick and comfort the dying. We bear one another’s burdens. We love each other with a love so strong it isn’t natural. No indeed, it is supernatural.
I know that many people have been hurt by cold, unloving churches or wicked people, wolves in sheep’s clothing, lurking in a clueless church. It’s a terrible thing and not to be tolerated. There are leaders and whole “churches” who pose as children of God, but don’t actually know Him at all. We who are the family of God must be alert always to make sure we are true and loving, and that we are not allowing any predators to roam our hallways, nor any false teachers to fill our pulpits. Even among true Christians, of course, there will be conflict now and then. Some people are just plain hard to get along with, and becoming a Christian doesn’t magically change that. Besides, did you ever know of a family without its dustups? Part of the reason we’re on the ground here is to polish those rough edges off and get prepared for life in Heaven. We can help each other do that by pouring out the love of Jesus on all the sore places.
Every human being needs the Savior we live for, and the family that comes with Him as a bonus. I realize that many people go through life without this support network of spiritual brothers and sisters, but honestly, I don’t know how they do it. When I see someone struggling through their hurts alone, I know how much better it would be if they would just give the burden to Jesus, come into the fold and let us love them. Welcoming a new brother or sister into the family is a fierce joy. It makes me want to celebrate with music and feasting and dancing. Scripture tells us there is joy in Heaven over every sinner who repents. Like the older brother in the story of the prodigal son, we are always with our Abba, and everything He has is ours. It is right that we should make merry and be glad when anyone dead in sin is raised to new life, when one who was lost is found, whenever God adopts a new child, a new brother or sister for us to love.