We throw the term around enough about being God’s family, but how do we do “God’s Family?”
One way is to love one another – 1 John 4:16 says ….God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
We cannot generate a love for others in our own strength. We must abide in Christ. Church programs to foster fellowship won’t do it. Only the power of Christ released in us as a result of our intimate relationship with the God who is Love will accomplish the work in us.
Paul’s definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13 is not a list to be checked off, but a mirror that shows us how we are doing reflecting God’s love back to others. We all need to take a look at this chapter regularly to see how we are doing.
Another way we “do” the family of God is by accepting one another – Romans 15:7 says…Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.
In the world, “accepting people” usually comes with all kinds of pre-conditions. I’ll receive you if you look like this, if you dress like this, if you act like this. But in the Church of Jesus there can be no pre conditions to our acceptance of each other because that is how Jesus accepted us.
Lastly, we “do” the family of God by building each other up.
Within a day or two after Jesus’ resurrection Peter announced to his friends that he was going back to Galilee to go fishing.
As he walked away from Jerusalem, I think I know how Peter was feeling deep inside. I know I would be feeling miserable and I think Peter probably was too.
Before Jesus was crucified, he slept in the garden when he should have been praying.
In Caiaphas’ courtyard hours later, Peter denied the Lord three times when he should have been defending the Lord.
At the cross he abandoned the Lord when he should have been standing watch.
So, a disheartened and discouraged Peter, filled with condemnation for all his failures, left Jerusalem and went back to what he knew best. What he felt most comfortable doing. Fishing.
Jesus in the meantime was back in Jerusalem. He was soon to return to heaven to be with His Father, but there was something he had to do first. He had to go see Peter at the Sea of Galilee to build Peter up.
I think Jesus did some very specific things to build up a discouraged and condemned Peter…things that we can use as a pattern for how we do the same in His body, the church.
- Jesus went to where Peter was in Galilee. Disheartened, discouraged, broken, condemned people will rarely go look for someone who will build them up. They generally go into retreat. Into isolation. We need to go looking for them for the purpose of building them up.
- Jesus surprised Peter with a gift. A large catch of fish!! When Jesus arrived in Galilee, he could see Peter out on his boat, fishing and observed that Peter had caught nothing. He told Peter and his friends to cast their nets on the other side of the boat and when they reluctantly did so, their nets filled with fish. What gift can you give to someone who is broken? A gift of your time? Companionship? Something that will be meaningful to them.
- Jesus prepared breakfast for Peter and his friends. That is the gift of hospitality that makes the recipient feel special and honored.
- After breakfast, Jesus lovingly drew a confession of weakness out of Peter. “Peter, do you love me?” It was the right question at just the right time. He asked Peter that question three times to draw out of Peter a needed confession of weakness.
- Then Jesus restored Peter in front of all his friends; restored to relationship with Him and restored to his ministry calling.
May His Holy Spirit move upon us, change our attitudes, change our hearts, change our thinking, change the words that come out of our mouths so that the Church begins to look like the family of God across the generational lines and ethnic lines!