Something recently rang true in my soul ... 2006 will be a year of family. You know, for many, the idea of family gets all wrapped up in painful thoughts of less-than idyllic family life. All of us have experienced some measure of pain in our families … some of it in our nuclear family and some in our church family.
Several years ago I had a conversation with Tom, a visitor to our church. He was not a believer. Tom told me that he thought that churches were a mess. I answered his concern and told him that I knew why church was a mess and wondered if he would like to know why as well. Perplexed by my response, Tom said that he would like to know why the church was a mess. God gave me some wisdom. I told him that the church is a mess because "I" am a mess.
You know the church has always been a mess. The apostle Paul spent large parts of his letters dealing with messy situations in the early churches. Even he himself struggled. He said that the things he wanted to do he did not do and those things he didn’t want to do he found himself doing. I am sure that one such time was when he and his friend and co-laborer, Barnabas, disagreed whether Mark should be brought along on a missions trip. It is written, "they had such a sharp disagreement that they parted company". There is no denying it … families are not neat and tidy.
I guess successful families are the ones where family members choose to love and keep loving … keep pushing past the pain of the past towards a hope for the future. As for me, I choose to let go of painful past family expriences – I will no longer allow past family experiences to defile my current family experiences … both my nuclear and my church ones.
Jesus told us that non-believers take note when we have this extraordinary love for each other:
"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35