We Are Family - The joy of unity in the body of Christ

“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.” 1 Corinthians 1:10 (NIV)

One of my absolute favorite things about being a follower of Christ is the joy of fellowship with my brothers and sisters in the Lord. This is in stark contrast to the years from 1995 to early 2004, when I wasn’t walking with Christ and steeped in the ways of the world. Substance abuse ultimately became the primary way I bonded for many of those years; drugs (and tagging along right behind, sex) in particular were an easy way to get over my self-esteem issue and instantly feel like I belonged. When I was high life was good, I loved everyone and everyone loved me - but then we call came down from the high and were left with… often very little. What sticks out most from those years is just how lonely I truly felt inside; people’s motives (including my own) were often suspect, and I rarely felt I could trust anyone or count on them when life wasn’t a party.

So when I joined my first church “Life Group” 15 years ago, it was a much needed breath of fresh air, as well as a place I would find comfort, healing, and rest. What sticks out most was the trust I was able to put in my brothers and sisters in Christ; I could bring my deepest hurts and wounds before them, confident they would lift me up instead of tearing me down (like many of my non-Christian friends were doing at the time).

Now I have to be honest - it wasn’t paradise; sometimes people hurt me, and sometimes I hurt them. At times we had conflict, disagreement, and different points of view on issues close to our hearts. For example, my good friend and roommate at the time kept making plans for outdoor activities together, and then backing out at the last minute. I became increasingly hurt by his actions - but instead of letting it fester, I asked him to sit down and talk about the situation. I shared how he’d hurt me; he humbly asked for my forgiveness, something I was eager to give, and fellowship was restored.

I love bringing people together; so does my wife - I’d say it was one of the things the Lord used to bring us together. God has truly put the “DNA” of community in both of our hearts! I’m here today because of the many people - friends, family, and seemingly “random” strangers God put in my path in the right place and right time - the Lord has brought into my life. The best part? The common thread that joins us all together is the strongest bond of all - our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

There are so many things in the world trying to tear us apart (I won’t even bother listing them all here (I could probably go on for days - Just ask my wife)! Paul saw the same thing in Corinth - people literally being torn apart by any number of controversies and disagreements. My devotional for today comes from Proverbs 31 ministries, and is called “We Are Family.” The author shares the Greek meaning of the word “division” literally means to tear apart like ripping fabric; division among the church in Corinth seemed everywhere.

How did Paul deal with the situation? He called on them to love each other like true family; Cindy Bultema, the author of the devotional, says this:

I love how Paul writes with a pastor’s heart, using family language. At least 20 times, Paul addresses his “brothers and sisters,” his “adelphos” in Greek. His loving-yet-firm tone is one we might use if we were going out for coffee with a sibling or a friend who had lost their way. “Oh, friend … I love you, but this has got to stop.”

In Christ we are family - brothers and sisters united by our common bond to the one who saved us. Bultema finishes her lesson with this:

Life delivers many reasons to be at odds with our sisters (and our brothers). Let’s look for ways to be at one with them instead. Let’s also look for ways to be family to each other, to stand up for each other as dearly loved daughters and sons of a Good Father. Because family takes care of each other, always.

We are family; let’s take care of each other, always.