Did you know that Christians are part of one, big, global family? It is the family of God! As a person who loves to travel, I consider this to be one of the greatest “perks” of Christianity. When I moved to Chicago to go to school, I walked over a mile to go to a local church. There were only 70 people in the church, but a kind, elderly couple invited me over for dinner that Sunday night. I accepted, knowing I could trust them because of their kindness and faith. I became a part of that church family – even though it meant walking over a mile in the Chicago winter – because of the warmth of the people.
When I traveled to Jerusalem, I had the chance to stand in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre: the (probable) location of Jesus’ crucifixion. It was a powerful spiritual moment, and I was humbled and broken. I took some time to pray with a Greek priest. He didn’t speak any English, but still I poured out my tearful prayers to him, and he prayed for me. I was deeply comforted by his prayers. This is God’s family.
Part of the reason why God’s family means so much to me is that there was a season in my life when I felt like I had lost my family. When my parents divorced, there was so much tension and fighting, and nothing was the same. God’s family became more central to my life and identity. Even though I know that Christians make many mistakes, I still love this family.
I went to Spain a few years ago, and stayed with a couple that I barely knew. They welcomed me into their home, fed me, and showed me around town as we dreamed about future mission ventures. Why did they trust me? Because we are part of God’s family together, we are part of the same smaller church family (the Covenant denomination), and we have all given our lives to serving Jesus. There is a bond there that is unexplainable. In the Bible it is called “fellowship,” the shared life of Jesus that unites people together – closer than we ever would have done on our own. This family transcends and unites race, age, language, geography, culture, and economics.
I could give many more examples: eating together, working through disagreements together, encouragement in the hardest moments of life, and the joy of making a difference together. Jesus didn’t just save our souls; He gave us a new family. It is one of the best, and most challenging, parts of being a follower of Jesus.