|Subject||What type of relationships should we develop at church?|
|Object||Relationships that are just like family.|
|Big Idea||Your church is your family.|
|Purpose||(Attitude) To commit to supporting others within the church in practical ways|
Have you ever noticed how we treat moms and dads differently? On Mother's Day, we praise our mothers. On Father's Day, the preacher usually tells fathers what they need to do better.
Even kids treat their dads differently. A father admired his 6-year-old daughter while she was dancing around the kitchen. Finally, he stopped her with a hug. "You know," he said, looking her in the eyes, "you're cute - just like your father." Amy was silent for a moment. "You mean my heavenly father or you?"
Instead of picking on dads today, I want to back up and ask, "What does it mean when we call the church a family?" Is that just a figure of speech, or does it have practical consequences?
To answer this question, I'd like to look at a passage of Scripture that's always been intriguing to me. It's written to a church leader, and the author (the Apostle Paul) devotes a lot of time to talking about widows.
Care for the practical needs within the church (3-16)
Paul focused on a vulnerable group (widows - not direct heirs of their husband's wills)
The church had developed a systematic way to help legitimate widows in need (3,9)
This list had qualifications and restrictions
Qualifications: Faithfulness and service (5, 9-10)
Restrictions: Those with family (4), those young enough to have other options (11-15) - why? impossible to meet every need; have to draw realistic lines
We (the church) are to appropriately care for practical needs (not just widows) within the church.
Why? Why is Paul dealing with this instead of justification by faith or the death of Jesus?
Your church is your family (1-2)
We are connected to them. We are obligated to them (respect, practical support). Caring for their needs is part of our service to God.
Do we buy this? Not really. It is a far deeper commitment than we are used to making. It goes against our culture.
What if it costs me too much? It won't (restrictions). Even if it does, others will be there for you.
When I buy something, it is rare that I keep it for myself. I end up sharing it with the family.
Church is a center of healing for those who need food, pastoral care, legal counsel, low-cost housing.
So we are family: we are stuck with one other; and we are obligated to one another.
When you see a need, get involved. When you have a need, let others know. See your stuff as belonging to the family.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. (James 1:27)
Thank you for the privilege of being family with one another. Thank you for the ways that the church has met my family's practical needs at very difficult parts of our family life.
Open our eyes to those around us and their needs. Help us not to be ashamed to ask for help, from me or from anyone within the body. For the glory of Christ, Amen.