by Jim Putman: Family… that word probably brings many thoughts to your mind. You may have memories of fun and loving holiday times together with lots of food and laughter. Or you may be one of the many people that have memories of bitterness, conflict and broken relationships. Some may even have no family memories; and spent your life dreaming of what it would be like to have one. Whatever family experience you have had in your life, when you become a follower of Jesus you are adopted into a new family, and you become a child of God. All of a sudden, you become FAMILY with other believers! And, like most families – it comes with its share of struggles.
God has given us each other as a spiritual family for several purposes. One is that we need never feel alone here in this world, even though we know it isn’t our home. Another is that we have each other to give and take support when we are in need. Because of this, even if your biological family has not been loving or supportive you will have a spiritual family that can fill in those gaps in your life.
Jim is one of the speakers at this year’s National Disciple Making Forum. Learn more and register here.
Sounds great, doesn’t it!? The only problem is, this spiritual family is also filled with people. And wherever there are people, there is the potential for conflict. Because, well, because we are human! The Holy Spirit is changing us to look more like Jesus, but that is a process and we all fail at times. Sometimes we hurt each other in this family. Sometimes we get hurtand we want to isolate and protect ourselves. And most of the time we would rather keep our church family at arm’s length. We are afraid to be vulnerable, afraid we will be rejected if we share our ugly parts.
According to the plan God has for His children and His Church – we don’t get to choose isolation. In fact – isolation is Satan’s plan because he knows it is where he can work best, where he can hurt both God and us.
There are Four Environments where we need to spend time with our spiritual family according to what God has laid out for us in His Word. If you are engaged in all of these environments:
One on one time with Jesus.
A spiritual friendship with one or two people where you feel safe to confess sin.
A discipleship group of around 12 people.
Worship as the church body, as well as working corporately within our gifting as a team.
The two things that are integral to each of these environments are God’s Word and relationship.
Unfortunately, the only one of those environments most Christian’s are involved in is the weekend service. Weekend Christianity will NEVER be enough to mature you spiritually! You cannot fit all God knows you need into 1 ½ hours a week.
You also cannot grow and mature without relationships. Where else do you get to practice all of the things God calls us to be as His children? How do we learn that love is patient and kind if we are isolated from each other? How do we developthe fruit of the Spirit if we never have a chance to display kindness, gentleness, and self-control?
“Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me – put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” Phil. 4:9
I want to challenge you to make your spiritual family a priority in your life – these four environments need to be reflected in your calendar and your schedule. Time every day with God – 2 or 3 friends that will hold you accountable – A weekly small group – and lastly, coming together weekly to worship and serve with your local body of believers.
If we follow the design that God intends for his children, we will be able to grow to the full potential he has for us. And our lives will reflect the richness and joy that being a follower of Jesus brings. When that happens, people can’t help but notice a difference between the world and us and want to know more about becoming part of our family!
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possesions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.” Acts 2: 42-47a
Written by Jim Putman
This was originally posted on Jim Putman’s blog here. Used with permission.