"Then the LORD said to Jacob, “Return to the land of your fathers and to your family, and I will be with you.” Genesis 31:3
God gave us a pretty cool gift when He gave us all families. Really. I mean, in what other situation can you not see people for years and years, and then when you do see them again, it's like no time has passed and everything is wonderful. We just had a delightful weekend getting together with extended family who we truly have not seen for years. I was kind of reminded of when Jacob returned to his brother Esau, expecting a great trial with his brother, only to be embraced.
"But Esau ran to meet him, and embraced him, and fell on his neck and kissed him, and they wept." Genesis 33:4
Not that I expected any kind of fighting or trials this weekend, but there was great joy upon seeing this family gather together just for the purpose of getting together. What's so cool about family is that we can share with one another all the good things and all the bad things, and it just really doesn't matter. With family there is a unique kind of love that transcends normal boundaries- it's just always there!
That love that is found in blood-related families is the exact same love that we should be showing to one another in Christ. We are family- we should love each other no matter what is going on. And more than that, we should not allow the world around us to dictate how we should love each other.
"For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith;" Ephesians 3:14-17
Had my family focused on what the world thought of family reunions, we would have all been anticipating some kind of blow-out or rift to happen. But we didn't. Instead, we focused on each other and as a result, we spent a wonderful time together.
Family is important, and we should take the lessons we learn from our natural families and apply them to our church families. But more than that... think of the really extended families- those distant cousins that you really only see once or twice in your lifetimes. They're still family, and there is still love and respect there. In the exact same way, different churches should behave with one another as those distant cousins- we should not be fighting or arguing between churches or denominations. As long as we all have Christ as our center- we're related- we're family.