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“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also MEMBERS OF HIS HOUSEHOLD.” (Ephesians 2:19)
When the apostle Paul describes the church as God’s household, His family, what does he really mean? Reflect with me a moment on what it means to be a family.
To be family is to talk through the bathroom door. Those family noises would offend elsewhere, but within the family are just part of the pulse of life.
To be family is to share deeply and openly. It’s to disagree freely and fight with fervor, to guard each other’s secrets and weaknesses with every ounce of our strength.
It’s calling your sister ugly, because maybe she is when she mopes about the house in curlers popping the latest pimple. But it’s not standing for anybody else calling her ugly. And the guy that she dresses up for, who walks out that front door with her, basking in her beauty, had better treat her right, because she’s family.
It’s lack of pretense. It’s openness. But sometimes it’s playing games ‒ sometimes it’s calling each other on it, in the middle of a game.
It’s walking your little brother through the tough side of town, teaching him how to deal with bullies, telling him about girls.
It’s telling Mom she’s the best mom in all the world, not because you can measure that sort of thing, or even compare one mother with another, but because she tries hard and besides, who loves you more than she does?
When you hit that homerun, scored the winning goal, who were the first ones to clap you on the back? The same ones who were there for you that time everybody was calling you a big loser.
Family! The household of God.
There is no better structure than a committed small group for realizing all God wants for us as part of His household. No wonder Entrust, since its inception, has found the small group to be the ideal structure for shaping leaders for Christ’s church.
If we examine much of what the Scriptures describe as the nature and function of the church, we find large congregations gathered on Sunday morning ill-suited for many of those ideals. We say the “one anothers” of scripture define what the church should be, but don’t those commands usually require a context of unusual intimacy? How do we bear one other’s burdens when we feel the only one in our church who may really care is an overworked pastor? How do we teach and admonish one another unless we are in a committed relationship where such permission is mutually agreed upon?
In much of the free world we gravitate to larger churches because of the variety of programs and ministries they offer our families. The irony is that in doing so we easily overlook the fact that when the early church met in homes, it had a built-in structure to ensure their church experience was that of a family. God’s family.
That weakness can be remedied. Not easily. Not in casual small group gatherings, but in intentional small groups that commit themselves to living out the “one anothers” of scripture. Then, by God’s grace, we can all become family.