Thursday, April 21, 2011

Family Relationships, Not Events

When we read about the church in the New Testament we see a picture of people in close relationship with one another. We see family.

Jesus himself indicates that our relationships with our church family will actually be closer than that of our genetic family.  Paul repeatedly refers to fellow Christians as "brothers."

As we think about the church in general, we see that relationships are extremely important.  In the book of Acts, the church spends a great deal of time together.  Things certainly weren't perfect; however, the people genuinely cared for one another. They showed this in very practical ways. As we look in the epistles, we read numerous commands that deal with how Christians are to treat one another. This is all based in relationships.

It's fascinating that when the writers of scripture discussed the church, their focus was on living out these relationships in a godly manner. Their concern is that we treat one another in a way that will ultimately build one another up in the faith to the glory of God.

It's also interesting that biblical writers don't focus much on events as far as the church is concerned. When they do, their interest falls mainly on how the Christians act in relationship to one another (see Paul's I Cor. 11 discussion of the Lord's Supper).

Why do we see this in the bible? In the church, why are relationships more important than events? It seems that God cares most about how we treat our brothers and sisters in Christ. This shows how we feel about God himself. As for events, especially big ones, the bible is relatively silent about these because God doesn't appear too concerned about them.

What can we learn from this?  As we live out life as the church, our focus should be God's focus. This means that we ought to care a great deal about our relationships within the church (outside the church is a related matter and an important one; I'm just not dealing with that in this post). If we are willing to look at our church activity, we should ask ourselves if it is involved in relationship building. What's this look like? Probably lots of conversations in various types of settings.

We might say that this takes too much time and energy. The good thing is that we all probably spend a little too much time and energy in planning and/or participating in unnecessary church events. Maybe we could take some time/energy from the events and transfer it to a focus on family relationships.

Obviously church relationships and church events are not necessarily mutually exclusive. Much relationship building can take place during church events. The key is the type of event.  Does it allow for a great deal of time together in beneficial conversation? Or, are the activities so structured that little conversation takes place?

Regardless of what local body of believers we are a part of, we can all do more to build relationships within the church. I'm referring to both inside and outside those we gather with weekly. If we want to care about what the N.T. writers cared about, then fellow Christians will be our focus. Specifically, we will care for their well-being.  We show this in relationship to them.

May we care about what God cares about. It's family, not events.

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