Jul13WedJuly 13, 2016
Our daily Scripture readings have been slowly taking us through the book of Genesis. A recent reading in Genesis 46, brought us to a significant moment within the life of Abraham’s extended family – seventy people from Jacob’s household moved to Egypt together and settled in the land of Goshen with the Pharaoh’s blessing. Nowhere in this account does it describe a sibling or cousin remaining in the land of Canaan. They traveled as one. At that time in Middle Eastern history, family relationships were of utmost importance. In many places, this mindset has not changed.
I bring that to mind this week because the ‘communion of saints’ has been designed by God to be even closer than family. Peter instructs us to “love one another earnestly from a pure heart” (1 Peter 1:22). Paul instructs us to “have the same care for one another” (1 Corinthians 12:25) and to “outdo one another in showing honor, loving with brotherly affection” (Romans 12:10). The church is called to out-love the family unit. This is especially good news for the many who have immensely dysfunctional family. When we love like this, the power of Jesus Christ is made evident. For how else can a group of estranged sinners voluntarily come together to form an entity stronger than family?
The problem that we run into in our North American context is that we tend to value efficiency over relationships. Due to our pride and fast-paced culture, we may be willing to invest in building new relationships - just as long as it doesn’t cost us any extra time. This is one of the great threats facing The Church in America today: church has become a place rather than a family.
As a result, Christians may spend years attending one church and only have relationships with a dozen people- while being able to only recall the first names of a few more. Large churches try to solve this problem by intentionally rotating people in and out of small group studies (until enough people complain about being required to build new relationships). Small churches see the asset of their size and can easily become closed off to newcomers – thinking that fifty people is more than enough for Christian community.
So how does a church grow numerically AND relationally in what way that looks like Jacob’s family in Genesis 46?
Road trips are a great place to start!
Therefore, I encourage you join in with our second annual Family Camp at Menno Haven on August 27-28. Although we will worship together on that Sunday morning, the primary agenda for this event is to simply provide space to play, laugh and eat together. As we do this, we are further cultivating the strong family-bond that already exists at FMC. If thirty hours with other church members seems intimidating to you, at least take a few steps forward to get to know some of the unfamiliar FMCer’s over a meal or coffee as the summer days continue.
We cannot love one another deeply if we do not know one another. Let us continue to strive for deep, honorable, brotherly (and sisterly) affection at FMC for the glory of God!