Today my thoughts have been sent in two directions. I wanted to take part in Bridget Chumley’s one word devotional carnival on ‘Condemnation’ but at the same time Rachel Olsen is having here carnival on ‘sisters in Christ’ so today I’m combining both!
Friendship is great but can be fickle. If I remember back to school I can hear phrases like: ‘Will you be my friend?’, ‘I’m not your friend anymore!’ I went to an all-girls school and remember some epic battles between girls who fell out and divided classes into sides. ‘I’m not speaking to you’ was commonly heard in the hallways. Now I’m older I realise how cruel women can be to one another – we can be quick to condemn and judge each other and ourselves. The term ‘frenemy’ is fitting to describe many relationships as it is unclear if that person is a friend or an enemy! Friendships can end if we are not clicking or someone gets offended or disapproves of the other.
It is with good reason that the bible uses the term brothers and sisters to describe fellow believers. The idiom, ‘You can choose your friends but you can’t choose your family’ isn’t found in the bible but it is apt to describe the kind of relationships we find in the church. The church is not meant to be a social hang out where we choose whom we love and want to be with. But in Christ we are brothers and sisters, not of the same blood biologically but of the same blood spiritually – all sinner bought back by the blood of Jesus. No one is better than the other:
Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
We are all in the same boat – no one is perfect and the great news is that in Christ we are not written off:
Romans 8:1-2 Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, 2 because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
The problem is that we tend to judge each other more harshly than God does! I have a friend who says she was very judgemental when she was younger, until one day some said to her she was glad God would be judging her at the end and not her – Ouch!
The truth is that all who are in Christ are family – just like biological families we don’t get to pick and choose. Some people we may never have chosen to associate with if it were up to us – but God says we are family.
1 Timothy 5:1-2 Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, 2older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.
The family is the aspect of the church I treasure most. When I came to faith my family were not in the church but the church welcomed me. When I went away as a missionary the church supported me like family. When my mum passed away and I was far from home, my home church looked after my Dad like family and my church here became the same for me. In families people bump heads and have good & bad times, but in the end family sticks together. I have sisters in Christ across the world, young and old who I can trust to be the mother-voice and sister-voice when I need it – to speak truth into my life without condemnation – women who I may never have chosen to be friends with, but who have become family.
Lord, help me to be a good sister, aunt, mother in Christ to my church family. Help me to speak truth with love and not condemnation and to receive the truth in the same way.