For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you. (Galatians 3:26-29)
Relate: Sometimes it seems like the disparate pieces don’t quite fit together. My church here in Southeast Turkey is in many ways three different churches that all meet under one roof. There is an English speaking, a Turkish speaking, and an Arabic speaking service every Sunday. Even in the English service there are between 12 to 20 different nationalities and cultures represented any given Sunday. Many of these are African and sometimes the worship can get a bit… rowdy. Others in the congregation are from Central or Eastern European countries and are coming from a very high church background where you would never imagine such exuberance in the sanctuary.
For many English is actually a second or third language and so it is difficult to structure and shape a message that can be both challenging and clearly understood. I have to admit, sometimes things don’t always fit together. Egos get in the way. Sensibilities are upset. Cultures clash. But these are moments to grow and stretch. We are a family and I don’t know about you but growing up in my home sometimes siblings… well, they taught their parents the necessity of patience. Honestly, I would be very worried if someone said there was always perfect agreement and serenity in their home. Either someone is very dishonest or something very weird is going on in that house. I’d put my money on an alien mind control device. Is there any way I could buy it off you or at least borrow it for a couple of my classes?
React: Seriously, even in Paul’s day there was the occasional squabble in the family of God. Right here in the book of Galatians in yesterday’s reading Paul talked about a disagreement he had with Peter. In tomorrow’s reading he will say of others he has a disagreement with: “I wish they’d just go and castrate themselves.” (If that isn’t a good enough motivator to get you reading the Bible daily… I give up) Disagreements within the church setting are not necessarily good, but this side of heaven they are natural. They aren’t the end of the world.
As much as my sister and I didn’t get along growing up, I never thought, “Forget it… I’m going to move in with the neighbors next door. I think I like their family better.” I’ve never thought, “My brother is tone deaf. The guy three doors down has a great voice. Perhaps I should move in with him.” If I wouldn’t consider doing this with my biological family, why am I so quick to do so with my spiritual family? If we all go church shopping every time there is a hint of conflict or the slightest discomfort, how on earth do we expect God to deal with the issues we are always hiding beneath the surface?
Help me to give grace and patience to the family You have adopted me into. I know I am not perfect but help me to be aware of the ways I can get under others skin through my own actions and attitudes. Give me a love for Your family even when they are acting unlovable. You love each of us, warts and all. Help me to do the same. Help me to live out Your grace.