Going Deeper with the Message:
All in the Family
by: Ben Biles
On Sunday, Pastor Tim talked about the fact that as believers, we are all family. We are united by faith in Jesus Christ and are lovingly welcomed into the family of God. We share a unique spiritual bond. As John writes in his gospel, “But to all who did receive Him, He gave them the right to be children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). As God’s children, all believers are brothers and sisters in the faith and this has certain implications on how we treat each other.
Tim mentioned several of these using the acrostic FAMILY. We forgive each other. We show affection to one another. We motivate each other to persevere in the faith. We don’t speak ill of each other. We love others by meeting their needs. And finally, we yield to each other. All of these point to the kind of relationship we are supposed to have with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
However, we live in a culture that highly values individualism at the expense of much else. Because of this, belonging to a close knit community outside of biological family isn’t exactly normal. Yet, this is exactly what God is calling us to participate in with other believers. His desire is to see the church, both locally and globally, showcase His own love and grace through the ways we treat each other. When others see our love, they will see the kind of God we worship and serve. John writes in 1 John 4, “Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God (1 John 4:7).” His exhortation to love is modeled after God’s own love and showcases the relationship we have with God and His family.
Yet, we struggle to truly love our fellow believers in the way that God has loved us. We struggle to connect in church community in ways that give us life and enable us to give life to others. We acknowledge, it’s difficult! There are time concerns, scheduling difficulties, personality differences, difficulty with being transparent and honest, as well as a host of other hurdles. But we know that when we make community with other believers a consistent habit, that we grow deeper in our faith in God and our love for each other, just as God wills. To this end, we strongly encourage you to get involved with a small group here at the Ridge and stick with it. It will change your life.
Living out the Message:
By Ben Biles
As believers in Jesus Christ, we are welcomed into the family of God as sons and daughters. Our relationship with God turns from its former ignorance and hostility into lovingly obedience and a desire to know more of our Father. Our relationships with other believers change as well from strangers into brothers and sisters. This dramatic shift in our relationship with others is often overlooked as individuals come to faith in Jesus Christ. Yet, as fellow children in the family of God, we have obligations to each other to love, forgive, support, encourage, build up, rescue, and so much more.
Though the local church is full of loving communities, there are many believers who struggle to get involved in a community that is intentionally caring for each other and growing in their faith. We acknowledge that there are many hurdles to forming great community: work schedules, family responsibilities, distance from others, personality differences, lack of initiative, as well as many others. Many find the effort not worth the benefit. After all, community with broken human beings is always messier than we think it will be. Or often times, being in community feels like more of an obligation than a true reward.
Yet, each of us is called into community, for that is where we best grow in our faith and experience the love of God. When we isolate from other believers, we blind ourselves to our own vices and have little to no support in our struggles. We cut off access to the people God wants to use to challenge you and grow you. Accordingly, we progress at a much slower rate. The point is that even though relationships can be messy, community will always lead to greater spiritual growth.
As such, we are all called to be community builders—a people focused on forming incredible, loving relationships with other believers. If we all take the initiative to invite, to text, to call, or to make the first move, think of how active our communities would be. Don’t wait to get involved. Don’t wait for someone else to reach out. Instead, consider yourself a community builder and jump into the middle of the mess. We guarantee that you will experience the amazing ways that God bonds those that come together in His name and will grow tremendously in your faith.