Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Traditionally this holiday means food, family, friends, and football. This is also a great time to thank God for ways He's blessed you.
The Family of God
One of those ways is by providing the church as an adoptive family for you. How does this work? When we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior, we are adopted into God's family. (See more in this video
"Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God." John 1:12 (NIV)
"So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith," Galatians 3:26 (NIV, read more here)
"Those who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. The Spirit you received doesn’t make you slaves. Otherwise you would live in fear again. Instead, the Holy Spirit you received made you God’s adopted child. By the Spirit’s power we call God Abba. Abba means Father. The Spirit himself joins with our spirits. Together they tell us that we are God’s children. As his children, we will receive all that he has for us. We will share what Christ receives. But we must share in his sufferings if we want to share in his glory." Romans 8:14-17 (NIRV)
This means that other believers become your "brothers and sisters in Christ." That means we are all one family because we all trust Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We all believe in Him, so we all have been adopted into God's family. That means Christ-followers have hundreds and thousands of brothers and sisters! These adoptive family members are all over the world. Whenever you move to a new place, you still have family there. You might have to look for a church of Christ-followers who teach and live out what the Bible teaches, but there you will find your adopted brothers and sisters in Christ. Pretty neat, isn't it?
Why do we go to church?
God made the church to be our adoptive family for a reason. These church family members are there to help us learn more about what it means to follow Jesus. They are there to pray for us and encourage us. They are there for us to serve and help, even as they serve and help us. The church family gathers for worship every week. These are times we can worship God, learn from the Bible, and get to know our church family better. The friendships we make with people in our church family are different from friends we have from other places. What makes them different is that our church family trusts Jesus and lives for Him like we do. That is a big difference!
I don't want to go to church.
Some people give lots of reasons why they don't
go to church. (We discuss some of them in this free resource on How to Choose a Church H.O.M.E.
) One reason might be because you didn't think the people at church were very friendly. Maybe somebody did something you didn't like. Let's think about this for a minute.
- Do you always get along with the family you live with?
- Does this make you not a member of that family?
- Do you always say and do the right thing?
- Have you ever done something you wished later you had not done?
Just because we asked Jesus to be our Lord and Savior does not mean we are automatically perfect and will never mess up again. Anyone who is human will make mistakes, mess up, and do things they regret. That is part of being human. What changes when we ask Jesus to be our Lord and Savior is that we ask God to forgive us when we do those things. We can also go ask others that we have hurt to forgive us. What if the person who hurt you won't apologize? You can still forgive them. Remember that we all mess up sometimes and God forgives you. Shouldn't you forgive that person too?
"For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Matthew 6:14-15 (NIV)
gives instructions on how to deal with someone who hurts you. Click on this link
to read it for yourself.
The Bottom Line
God loves His church, His family, very much. When you say you love God but don't love His church, you are saying you don't love God's family. How do you think that makes God feel?
"...Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her" (the second part of Ephesians 5:25 NASB).
Remember that no two church are exactly the same. There is a different mix of people. There are different things happening and different ways for you to help and serve. Do your best to love people like Jesus loves you. If you really can't make one church work, try another one. What do you love about your church family?