One of the best and most important things we get to do as Christians is to be part of a church family. God’s design for the church family is the same as his design for the families we grow up in – a warm loving community in which we are loved, taught, supported, and corrected.
Sadly that is not always the case but it is what God wants and I feel very blessed to be part of a church family that strives to fulfil that calling.
The Blessing of Inclusion in Family Life
Being included into someone else’s family is a special joy.
For many Christians, they may not have come from a Christian family. They may live far from their family. They may be single or not have their own children. They may not have brothers or sisters, or any number of reasons that make being included in someone else’s family a wonderful blessing.
God has not blessed Eoin and I with our own children so far but he has blessed us abundantly with being part of many families at church.
In fact, we spend so much time with our wonderful church children that a couple of times at morning tea after the service we’ve had remarks on how many children we have and what a busy family we must have!
To have people share their children and include you in their day to day life is something that makes our hearts overflow with happiness.
We have also been able to bring people into our family and provide them with love and care, we have been able to throw special Christmas dinners (before Christmas) for friends who don’t have Christian families so they can celebrate Christ’s birth along with all the fun and trimmings.
We have been able to ‘adopt’ international students and become their surrogate parents while they are in New Zealand. Being able to love and include people like this also fills our hearts to the brim with joy.
In Psalm chapter 68, verse 6a, it says “God sets the lonely in families”, and one of the ways he does this is through planting us in a local church family.
The Blessing of Wisdom and Help
Another wonderful blessing of being in a church family is the variety of people who make up the congregation.
At our church we are abundantly blessed to have a wide variety of people – single and married, parents, grandparents, children, young adults, and all other ages and stages!
There are a couple of women in particular in our congregation who are particularly wise, gentle, and always ready to help anyone in need. They are models of Godly womanhood, and have vast amounts of experience with many different life situations.
Being connected with them through the church family has been such a blessing and I have been deeply impacted by their wise and compassionate advice at important points in life and have been warmed and encouraged by their love and friendship.
As the Bible says in Proverbs chapter 3, verse 13, “Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding.” God has blessed us with people of many ages and stages at church so that we can share wisdom and help with each other.
The Blessing of Correction and Accountability
It might be surprising to call correction a blessing (I know I don’t feel particularly blessed when I am being corrected). However, while we don’t like the process, the results we reap from it are rewarding.
I have been going to the physiotherapist to get my knees healthy and strengthened. The first time I used their gym, I was super sore in my legs the next day. However, since I have been gradually working on my exercises, I have noticed improvements and the physiotherapist even said at the last appointment that there was progress!
Just like having to do physical work to maintain our physical selves, being part of a church community comes with the blessing of being around others we can call upon to help us be accountable to the goals we set for ourselves for our spiritual growth.
Sometimes we need someone to intervene and tell us something we don’t want to hear (like the fact that we really should go to the doctor for a health problem we have been avoiding) or the fact that an aspect of our behaviour is not in line with God’s teaching from his word.
When we care about someone we need to be able to speak the hard truth to them - speaking the truth in love, because even though the process may be painful the results are definitely worth it!
As it says in Proverbs chapter 19, verse 20, “Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.”
God has provided a wonderful blessing for his followers in the church family and I feel so blessed that he has planted Eoin and I in such a wonderful one that really strives to be what God has called us to be as a family to one another!
Jessica McPherson lives with her best friend and husband, Eoin and their family of rescue animals in Christchurch. She loves reading, writing, photography and scrap-booking but most of all sharing God’s love and truth with a hurting world. Jessica is particularly passionate about encouraging children and building them up in gospel truth.