2002-11-15 - Fellowship
Not Just for Presbyterians, Part 2
Continuing our look at "The Great Ends of the Church," this week we will think about what our Christian family is to provide for us (and we for them) - "the shelter, nurture, and spiritual fellowship of the children of God."
When you are dealing with life's difficulties or hurts, where is the first place you turn? Prayer should be like an autonomic response for us. But after that, the natural place we should run, is to our Christian family. If a relative were struggling with addiction, your spouse left you or one of your children were in trouble, would you turn to your Sunday School class, cell group or other Christian friend? Or are you more likely to rely on a coworker who doesn't share your Christian beliefs?
I have heard sad statements such as "my church is the LAST place I would turn with this problem." This must break our Heavenly Father's heart. Friends, it should not be so. Our Christian family is meant to be a haven from the storms of life. God intends for us to share in each others ups and downs.
Romans 12:15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (NASB)
And it works both ways. When you ask someone how she or he is, are you really eager to take the time to listen, if the answer isn't "fine?"
If you don't find this fellowship among your Christian friends, should you just give up? Of course not! If we follow in the footsteps of our Lord, we will try to make things right. Reach out to a friend; let her or him know that you really need an ear. If you aren't getting the nurture you feel you need from your church, talk to one (or more) of your church leaders.
If you don't try to help ameloriate the problem - if you simply walk away and don't even make an effort, you are not allowing God to use you. Who knows but that, like Esther, one reason He put you there was so you could make a difference? And if you just leave, what about the people who follow you? For their sake, if not your own, you need to try to ensure that the problem is addressed. Even Christian groups sometimes need "salt and light." If you have truly done all you can, then pray for God to help you forgive, and to lead you to a nurturing church.
I'm not speaking of a church family that will just "tickle your ears." It's all a matter of balance. We do need accountability, and another role of our Christian family, is to GENTLY (Paul's word but my emphasis) correct and restore each other. But that's a topic for another time.