“I know God loves me because he gave me you!” My mom used to say that to me, often. As a child I knew I was one of her gifts. An expression of God’s love. Because she told me so.
My husband and I have served in church ministry for fifteen years. We’ve experienced our share of joy and pain in church life. No doubt if you’ve hung out in churches for any length of time you have too. Sometimes I have dwelt too long on the hurts, allowing them to eclipse the amazing love that has been poured out on our lives.
But there are moments that bring me back to the joy of family life. Those seasons when I just know I couldn’t make it without my brothers and sisters, and I wouldn’t want to.
It takes all of us, filled with God’s Spirit, reflecting his nature, to make up the person of Jesus here on earth. And that’s exactly what’s happened in my life. Sure, occasionally we get out of sync with one another, sometimes we’re more focused on serving self than on worshiping Jesus. But the reality is, it’s with YOU, my brothers and sisters in the family of God, that I most experience Jesus.
Looking back it’s easy to see now that in every church I’ve shown up to, Jesus was there waiting on me, he was in each of you! I know God loves me because he gave me you!
So many times I have been loved by Jesus through the skin of humans. I’ve been forgiven, corrected, encouraged, enjoyed, cared for, prayed over, taught, celebrated, embraced. In every single season of my life.
I’m convinced, and I believe the book of Ephesians agrees, that we cannot fully love God or experience his love without the relationship of fellow followers of Christ. When we’re hurt it’s easy to pull back from the church and want to do our own God thing independently. But that’s not actually a viable option left open for us in God’s word.
Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Ephesians 4:2-6
I’m amazed when I look at each of you and find Jesus smiling back at me through your eyes! That is truly a gift!
I’ve found it to be especially true over these last weeks that have been so hard. As my family has said goodbye to my precious mama, Jesus, through the church, has wrapped his arms around us. You have prayed, and written, and sent food, and showed up, and prayed, and encouraged, and cried with us, and prayed. And I’ve known Jesus more deeply because of you all. I truly know God loves me because he gave me you. Thank you.
Do you take your role in the body of Christ seriously? Without your presence people are missing out.