Turning Strangers into Friends into Family
This week we're talking about the God-given identity of "family" that we have together. As Christians we are called by God as family and to be family. The Christian life was never meant to be lived alone. Almost all of the commandments that Paul writes in the epistles are to churches, not individuals. Our Christian culture often says, "It's me and Jesus and that's all I need." But that's not what the Bible says! The Bible is full of commandments that end in "one another." That means that we have to be with other Christians in order to live these out.
I have a deep desire for our church to grow in this family identity. When you first become a Christian, you're adopted into the family of God. But in order for us to live out our identity as family, we first have to know each other, then we have to become friends, all before we can call each other family. Being family takes commitment, investment, and time. It's certainly not always easy, especially when you're part of a multi-ethnic culture like what we have at CoaH. Sometimes it's easy to build relationships, and we should praise god for those times, but we should also work hard to build gospel-centered deep relationships with people much different from ourselves.
Our number one tool to facilitate family relationships at CoaH is community groups (CGs). But I feel like many of us view CGs as a "pass/fail" test. If you're in a CG, then you pass. If you're not, you fail. But there is so much more to it. CGs are great, but you must invest in the relationships in your CG in order for it to feel like "family." Not only that, you have to be willing to dig into each others' lives in an uncomfortable way for it to really function as christian "family." Speaking and receiving the truth in love. Otherwise, it's just a social club.
I'll leave you with a passage of 1 John that highlights our need to love each other and draw near to each other. 1 John tells us that if we love each other we can have assurance that we know God. But it also tells us that if we don't love each other, we have no assurance of salvation. Is there anyone you need to seek reconciliation with or with whom you need to pursue with a deeper affection and love? Let's push forward in the love God gives to us.
1 John 4:7-8 - Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
- Pastor Fletcher