Sunday, September 6, 2009

Brothers and Sisters in Christ

As we search for a church, I have actually been quite encouraged by the fact that no church is perfect, and it's okay if I don't fit in or click with people immediately. Real Christian growth in community, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer incisively points out in Life Together, means to acknowledge that I am related to others as brothers and sisters in Christ. It's important to break this down. It's more than just a cliche or terminology.

We are brothers and sisters in Christ, part of the "family of believers" (Galatians 6:10). Just as we may choose our friends but not our family, so too do we not choose with whom we will and will not have fellowship. That's God's choice, not ours. He is our Father, and we don't get a say in family membership. And what family is perfect, without awkwardness or strain? If we want a church or fellowship without these, then what we desire is something other than the church God is building by his Spirit and calling his own.

Second, we are brothers and sisters in Christ. This means that we our family and fellowship exists not because we're in a social club, but because we're members of one body--Jesus's. With his blood he has purchased us for himself and to be one with himself in glory (Acts 20:28; Revelation 5:9-10). Therefore as Christians we mysteriously find our deepest fellowship not at a concert or playing ultimate frisbee, but at the Communion table. If I'm going to find a brother, it will only be as mutual recipients of God's grace and forgiveness. If God has accepted him, who am I to look down my nose at him? The church body exists solely on account of Christ's grace and for his purposes: the glory of God in the salvation of the world. And because living for God's glory in the world, fed and sustained by the gospel, is only done through the Word and prayer, my fellowship in Christ demands that I care more about building up someone in the Word and praying for and with him.

It's easy to seek out fellowship on the basis of shared interests. And it's not bad at all to have friends who like the same music, television shows, careers, etc. But this can lead to superficial relationships, which Satan loves. Being part of the body of Christ means something else, something deeper. The grace of God and the deceit of the the world demand that, in searching for a church and in cultivating new relationships, I need to be about more than just "fitting in" or feeling comfortable. It's even okay if I don't. Because what we need aren't more buddies or pals who never rub us the wrong way, but real brothers and sisters in Christ.


Halfmom said...

I am benefiting from a second time through the CDs from this same book - very interesting. I can see why you like it.

Sarah Murphy said...

Hey Andrew,

thank you for your reflection.

Im a youth minister and Im trying to write a talk on being brothers and sisters in Christ.

Thank you.