I learned the significance of “Church Family” long before I referred to it as “My Tribe” (or those not connected to me by DNA.)
As a child of divorce at a very young age, I felt alone, abandoned, a misfit. I can’t imagine where I would be today without the loving heart of a woman whose name has escaped me and I’ve always referred to as the “Brown-Haired Lady” and the first member of my “tribe”.
It wasn’t until much later that I realized not only did she show me that God called me into fellowship with His Son, Jesus Christ, but He also called me into fellowship with the entire tribe!
As I began to reflect on this, I thought about how Jesus brought the Apostles together, how they are all so different, and how Acts 2:46 describes them as breaking bread with glad and sincere hearts…and how this was certainly my first experience with church family!
But then I thought, what about the journey? They were all so different. Did they all get along? Did they even like each other? I’m confident that in some instances the answer was NO and there were many lessons to be learned as we know by reading the Gospels.
What they did have though, was the ONE, The Messiah, Jesus Christ the Son of God and the common thread was that they believed!
I believe this was the beginning of the Church Family, the misfits, the broken, the orphans, the sinners. Nothing new to Jesus, right? He also knew they were each passionate and gifted in their own ways and hungry for something that was far greater than themselves and everlasting! After all, He created them.
After reflecting on this, I then tried to put myself in the place of the disciples and identify with them as they were filled with the Holy Spirit. I began to recall my walk with other believers much after my encounter with the “Brown-Haired Lady.” I realized that my Church Family are who I am in fellowship and ministry with today locally, but it also been a part of my life when I didn’t even realize it. It’s my preacher aunt who used to drag me in secret to tent revivals as a young girl to witness the sick being healed, and more recently a 12-year-old girl who befriended my mature heart and truly seeks my advice about hairbow etiquette, what I think true discipleship is and calls me family. And it’s the hard parts; it’s holding the praying hands of those who have experienced loss, abuse, and sickness. 1 Corinthians 12.26 shows us that when you are truly a church family, you all feel the loss. It’s having your heart broken by people in the church who you will have to forgive and continue to do life with even if they don’t make amends. It’s asking for forgiveness for those you have hurt. There are times when you will feel isolated and alone as the disciples did when they were separated.
Proverbs 19:11 "A man's insight gives him patience, and his virtue is to overlook an offense."
The Church Family is not perfect, far from it!
Not only do we need the church family, but we also need to be the church family.
We are not exempt from hurting, but I do know that on this journey, Jesus has used them to fill my heart when I'm broken, and He has used me to walk through the storms of life with them. These are the people Jesus has made fishers of men and truly want others to be free and will walk beside them and love them as they receive their gift of salvation and continue to seek deliverance.
We are living in unprecedented times, and I’ve witnessed the Church Family being attacked and tested within its own walls.
Social Media is a prime example and many times, on my own journey, I have heard the words: “I used to go to church, but the church is full of hypocrites”. I believe the definition of hypocrisy they refer to is a superficial attitude of holiness. It gives the message to others; I am better than you and you are lower than me. I like to refer to this as a “Religious Attitude”. And unfortunately, it’s out there. However, when you seek and find a true Church Family, you will find that they demonstrate and are committed to a willingness to show love and forgive a bunch of fellow sinners. That’s pretty amazing!
Romans 12:10-13 "Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality."
If you are not currently connected to a Church Family, I’m inviting you now to the most “Exclusive/Inclusive tribe there is…
Nothing more Exclusive and, I find, the most powerful thing about that is Jesus is also the most “Inclusive” club there is.
Everyone is welcome.
It started with a few Fishermen, a tax collector, a zealot and a thief and there are now 2.38 billion of us on earth and so many that have gone before us. There are still many to come and there is much to do.
We will be together for eternity.
And I am grateful for My Tribe.
The one’s I’ve walked with and the one’s I’ve yet to walk with.
It’s global, it’s eternal, it’s a life sentence.
~ Kristie Kent