Saturday, May 3, 2008

Part of the family

The other night, with my husband out of town, I allowed the boys to come spend the night in our bed. (OK, really I was just afraid that they'd need me and I wouldn't hear them.) Getting two small boys to fall asleep in the same bed is no small feat; it's like they are some unstoppable energy machine that has to keep on making noise and wiggling until 'boom' the battery runs out and silence and cessation of motion ensue instantly. There were repeated cries of "Mom, he's bothering me," and "Mom, he's poking me." And finally there was the ultimatum. "Mom, I don't want Indy to be a part of our family any more."

Oh dear. What is a parent supposed to do with THAT statement? I'm not even sure what heinous crime Indy committed in order to deserve banishment from the family, something about scrubbing that was keeping Gates awake. I gently told Gates that we are all part of this family and I would be very sad if anyone was missing because I love them both so much.

I suppose it isn't that uncommon to hear from our children. I can recall wishing every now and then that my brothers belonged to a different family (or that I did). What made me sad as I thought about it today is that sometimes we carry that attitude with us into adulthood and into the church. Are there people in your church that make you think "Boy, I wish they weren't part of the family; I wish they'd go someplace else?" I'm not talking about the people who are making things difficult for the church, I'm talking about the people that we just don't like. Maybe their personality irritates you. Maybe they have a disability that makes you uncomfortable. Maybe they don't dress 'right'. Maybe they challenge your faith in areas you don't want to be challenged in. Somehow they 'scrub' us the wrong way.

When I was a young single I was part of a small group made up of mostly other young singles and a few newlyweds. Most of us were the 'cool' or at least in my case 'semi-cool' singles in the church. And then there were two girls I'll call Vicki and Kim. Or, as our small group leaders dubbed them, Speedy and Needy. Ouch. It was no secret to anyone in the group except these girls that they weren't wanted. We don't want you in the family, you talk too much. We don't want you in the family, you need too much. Your personality is scrubbing up against me and it irritates me. God, forgive me for not wanting people in my church family that you had placed there. When we stop seeing people as part of our family, we lose the ability to BE family to them. We forget that God put them there, just as surely as he placed each of our children in our earthly families.

Who don't you want in your family? Are there still people I wish weren't a part of mine?

I like what I heard someone say recently, if someone irritates you, pray for them. Continue to pray for them. You may not like their behavior any better, but you will find yourself being filled with love for them. You will begin to see them as part of your family.

Colossians 3:12-15 is one of many passages that talks about the church as one body:

12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.



One body. One family. We strive to cultivate things like compassion, kindness, gentleness and patience in our own families. Can we humble ourselves enough to try to cultivate them in our church family as well?

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