A Sense of Family

 I drove home from church yesterday reminded of one of the reasons I gladly returned to Grace. A sense of belonging to a family. As I embraced friends coming to the Lord's Table there was a tenderness (as well as a few tears) in their eyes. We all long to feel loved. The Lord's Table is a celebration of our Father's profound love for us and a reminder that we all share in the forgiveness that binds us together as family. Listening to folks stand and share part of their journey with us as a family is always meaningful for me. I love the nervousness, awkwardness and spontaneity of these moments. It's a great picture of the diversity of our spiritual family. We're all wonderfully unique and wonderfully odd. Young and old. Seasoned and beginner. Complex and simple. Broken and more broken. We're all imperfect learners in following Christ. I'm always touched by the warm laughter and applause that follow those who are especially nervous or those who share something especially meaningful. Gestures of acceptance and affirmation. Gifts of love from the family.

Belonging to this family brings richness and substance to our spiritual journey. It plays a vital role in the process of becoming more like Christ. But not everyone feels they belong to this family.  A time like yesterday can be an equally painful reminder of the loneliness some feel. The loneliness is sometimes caused by our imperfect ability to extend love as a family. Other times it's caused by our imperfect capacity to receive love that is extended to us. As imperfect as we are we long to be a safe place where people are known and loved - where they feel they belong.

And as we think about extending the love of Christ to our friends outside the family of Grace we are wise to recognize that most will want to belong before they believe. In other words, the pathway toward belief in Jesus will be relationship with followers of Jesus. So we invite our friends into safe relationships with us where they are known, loved and accepted. We invite our friends to share life experiences with us. We invite our friends to serve side-by-side with us in the community. We treat them like family. In the experience of belonging our friends become more receptive and responsive to conversations about believing in Jesus. 

Fighting for your hearts,

Gary Franklin

Reflections for your spiritual journey:

  1. Reflect upon your gratitude for the family of God and how Father has used it in your spiritual journey. Take a moment to express your gratitude.
  2. Think about those within our church family who may not feel like they belong. Are you aware of those who might feel lonely? How might you extend the gift of belonging to them in ways that are tangible and meaningful?
  3. Think about a few friends within your circle of relationships who do not enjoy a relationship with Jesus. Have you invited them into a relationship with you where they feel known, loved and accepted? Think of a couple of creative ways you might invite them to share life with you in a meaningful way - a way that would cause them to feel like family.