Summary: What it means to be the Family of God (the church)
We are Family
February 2, 2014
Ron’s story is a great story about his healing. Many of you will remember this event and many of you most likely prayed for Ron and helped his family. But the story about the church is what I want to focus on.
At the end of the interview, Gloria Gaither was talking, partly to the people there, and partly to herself, and she wondered ~
Would they do that for us? They weren’t at church every Sunday as they traveled. They considered themselves not very good church members. They don’t bake for the bake sales, would they do that for us?
Finally she concluded —
We may be orphans here, but we belong. They’d do that for us.
No longer an outcast, a new song I sing
from rags to riches,
I’m not worthy to be here, but praise God, I belong.
Aren’t those great words?! They should be great words of comfort and great words of power for us.
You remember the great old program CHEERS? The beauty of that program was what? It was a place where everyone knew your name. That’s what really made that program so great. When Norm walked in, everyone yelled, “Norm!” Deep down, that’s what we all want. We want to be recognized for who we are.
You see, we all need a place to belong. A place that fits you like your favorite pair of jeans, that’s as welcoming as your snuggly recliner. That’s the way we were created. Not to be isolated. Not to be alone. But to be together — experiencing life with others. Church isn’t a place — it’s people. Church isn’t just something you attend; it’s something you are!
The United States is reported to be the loneliest country. It’s estimated that up to 40% of Americans are lonely. That’s a huge number. It’s been said more people identify with characters on a TV series than with their neighbors. Everywhere you look, people are hungering for fellowship, community, and a sense of family.
I read about an older woman who waited in line at the post office to buy two stamps. One day, as she got to the counter, the postal worker told her, “you don’t have to wait in line to buys stamps. You can buy them in books of 20, from the machine.” She responded, “but the machine doesn’t ask about my arthritis.” People long to be connected.
The Bible uses a lot of metaphors to describe the church, but the most persistent is we are a family. In the New Testament, believers call each other brothers and sisters and, in his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul wrote these words ~
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
17 And He came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near.
18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.
19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone,
21 in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.
22 In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.
Most of you who are very regular sit in the same row, same pew, partly because you are home in that seat, and I think the pew has become perfectly formed to the shape of your bottom. Maybe you’re as comfortable in here as you are in your favorite old sweats and sweatshirt. On the other hand, maybe you’ve never felt like you really belong somewhere. Maybe you’ve never known the blessing of being a part of something as big as the family of God!
Maybe you’d ask the same question Gloria did —
would they do that for us? And then she answered ~ We may be orphans here, but we belong. They’d do that for us.
Let’s go back to verse 19. While Paul was in prison, he wrote this ~
19 you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God,
Those are such great words for us to hear this morning. You see, Paul basically repeats himself. He’s reminding us that we are no longer in a foreign land, we don’t need a green card or a visitor’s pass or some visa. Paul wants us to know that in Christ, we’ve been brought near by the blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the cornerstone. He’s the foundation upon which the church exists.