We Are Family
It's a beautiful concept, is it not? The Church is the family of God, made so by His choice. He took people from many varied backgrounds and put us together, binding us with kinship by the power of the Holy Spirit, little by little.
We who are not family, have become family, which is what I think of when I think of adoption. A child comes into a family a stranger, and is knitted together into the core of who that family is. So it is with God.
One of the definitions of adoption, according to the Cambridge Dictionary, is: the act of accepting.
Our adoption into the family of God has two parts, what has already taken place, and what will happen when Jesus returns. As with so many things, I wait, between the already and the not yet. And I am not alone:
For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body. (Romans 8:22-23)
I've been thinking a lot about family lately, and about those first fruits of the Spirit. It is easy, in some ways, for me to focus on how wonderful Heaven will be, when we are all one, as Jesus prayed in John 17. I feel so far from that sometimes.
But it seems to me that the presence of more fruits in the future doesn't negate the beauty of fruits in the present. The first peaches do not erase the need for the last, or for the pumpkins, or apples, do they?
If this is the case, the first fruits of the family of God are ripe for the taking. We can act, as a body, like the Body, loving each other as family. I hear talk of this often, but I fear that I don't put it into practice as often as I should. I get caught up in my plans and busyness and thoughts and forget just how connected I am to the family of God.
Recently, my parents, with whom I live, took a trip and left me with the dog. I expected to enjoy the solitude, to revel in the time to think and pray and be. I had a long to-do list and a heart full of anticipation. Then, the night came. Creativity can be a great gift, but it can also be a curse when you use it to think of various ways that you might die while your parents are out of town. It was a long and sleepless night.
The next day, I made a call with trepidation. I spoke to a girlfriend of mine, who is married. I explained the situation and asked if there was any way she might be able to come and stay with me. She conferred with her husband. They came, that night, and we laughed and talked and watched The Emperor's New Groove and made popcorn. We acted like family, because we are.
I said, recently, to a dear friend, that I need to know that the Church will be my family and will love me even if I don't get married. God has been making that known to me lately, through small gestures, and large ones, too.
I was talking with a pastor friend of mine recently about this very topic: how can single people and married people act like family, like the Church? This post is the beginning of my answer to him, which is coming slow and little by little.
I think it starts with small things, like inviting people over, even though I'm single, hanging out with my dear friend and her kids (and her husband, and her parents) or taking my 3-year old "adopted" niece to watch the ducks at the pond. But sometimes, it looks like picking up the phone and saying: "I'm scared" or "I need help" or "can I come over?" For me, it's about moving toward one another, accepting (or adopting) each other, married or single, young or old. As we move closer together, I think we also move closer to what Heaven will be like, when none of the divisions which currently exist between us will stand, when adoption by God will be complete, and we will be one.
So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is growing into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit. (Ephesians 2:19-22)
This post is the first official entry in a series related to singleness and the church which I am calling Single-Minded Mondays. Because I find myself talking about things which I think are relevant to the whole church, it is my hope that many people will find encouragement and food for thought here, single or otherwise. If you know of someone who might enjoy the conversation, I'd be honored if you would invite them along.
As always, thanks for joining me on this journey. We truly are family.