The church as a super-natural community1
I had an excellent conversation this week with a friend about the many levels of relationship we all experience. Think about all of your layers of relationship: there's family, marriage, kids, friends, co-workers, neighbors, business, school, hobby friends, and church relationships. I think it's fair to say that it's hard to experience "maximum relationship satisfaction" in every layer at any given time. I may be assuming too much, but I think people generally do well in some relationships while other relationships grow distant. It can feel overwhelming (especially around the holidays) to make everyone happy!
So my friend and I were having a light-hearted conversation about consolidating - you know, focusing on some relationships while allowing others to slip into that category of "someone we used to be close to." It's natural right? You change life stages, jobs, locations, etc. and some relationships (unfortunately) just drift.
What interested me about my friend's take was the momentary temptation to neglect church relationships. I mean, wouldn't it just be more convenient if our closest friends and family members were also our faith community? What if you really really liked the people you also worship with? What if you had everything in common - background, age, stage of life, race, color, economic, education? The thought is worth a few moments until you ask, "what does the Bible say?" Or better yet, how has Jesus structured his church? Is there value in worshipping with people who are not like you?
D. A. Carson captures the essence of why you can never neglect who the Lord calls you into faith community with:
“Ideally the church itself is not made up of natural "friends." It is made up of natural enemies. What binds us together is not common education, common race, common income levels, common politics, common nationality, common accents, common jobs, or anything of the sort. Christians come together, not because they form a natural collocation, but because they have been saved by Jesus Christ and owe him a common allegiance. In the light of this common allegiance, in light of the fact that they have all been loved by Jesus himself, they commit themselves to doing what he says—and he commands them to love one another. In this light, they are a band of natural enemies who love one another for Jesus’ sake.”
A band of natural enemies brought together by a loving redeeming savior - it's a super-natural community. And the more unnatural your church relationships are the greater your Savior receives the glory for uniting the un-unite-able (not sure that's a word haha).
What bible verses come to mind that describe the unique relationships that make up the church in the New Testament? Any thoughts? Send me an email - I'd love to hear from you!