Thursday, March 27, 2008

He Places The Lonely In Families...

FriendsI think the greatest benefit of being a Christian here on earth is the beauty of belonging to the world's biggest family. I can go anywhere in the world and find a group of Christians, and the chances are pretty good that we will begin to connect very quickly.

This phenomenon is axiomatic for Christians. It bridges culture, language, race, and even denomination. In fact, I would probably go as far as to say that if this doesn't occur, one of the parties is likely not a Christian.

Now I know that there are people who aren't the easiest people to love - even within the church. ESPECIALLY within the church! But even with EGR people (Extra Grace Required) there are moments of commonality that make being a Christian one of the sweetest things I know.

I was able to experience the sweetness of belonging to the family of God tonight. Ever since StillWaters was euthanised, the music team has continued to meet on our usual practice night. The meetings have changed a little bit, though. Since we don't have the pressure of getting a 5-8 song worship set together we have been exploring some of the other aspects of what having church is really all about.

As a result, we have begun enjoying a meal together, working on some music, spending a little time in the Word (the Bible), and some time in prayer. At times this transition has been a little clumsy, but we have found some wonderful life in it.

Tonight turned out a little different. Three of the families that usually join us weren't able to come for various reasons. So tonight's group boiled down to only the musicians. I prepared my Shepherd's Pie, Sara made a salad and some brownies, and we were set.

What was funny about tonight was that we hardly did any of the religious stuff. We did pray over the meal, but that was the extent of our "churchiness." The rest of the evening, we talked about the future, played some jazz (we didn't even PLAY any "churchy" music!) and listened to some jazz. It was a precious, precious evening.

Can you imagine what Heaven will be like? Can you imagine what life will be like in the New Jerusalem in the presence of Christ Himself? If our fellowship is this sweet in a fallen world with our flawed flesh, what will it be like when our sinful nature is totally removed? It makes me tear up with joy to just think about how wonderful that will be.

I swiped the picture above from a USA Today article that I found using a Google Image search. I really miss having church with a group like that. When I attended Immanuel Baptist Church in Greensboro, NC as a child and later attended King's Park International Church in Durham, NC and Piedmont International Church in Greensboro, NC after college that was my reality. Every race that you could imagine was present, worshiping God. We got along just fine. I so miss that.

Unfortunately, things aren't quite as integrated here in my area. It's sad really. I hope that God will move here soon to break down the racial barriers that exist.

The breach in the wall between Salisbury's Old English Cemetery and the Freedman's CemeteryThis correction seems to be something that is on the Lord's heart for Salisbury. A couple of years ago a very significant event occurred that I believe was prophetic in nature. The city council decided to make a breach in the stone wall between the Old English Cemetery and the Freedman's Cemetery (a cemetery for free black people.)

Of course there was some outcry that a section of the old stone wall was torn down between the cemeteries, but the council did it intentionally to signify a breaking down of the wall between the races. Praise God! I guess every once in a while the government does end up doing the right thing! (If you look closely you can see the spire of the First Presbyterian Church through the breach. I thought that it was cool that it was there in the picture.)

But I digress...

The article in USA Today talked about how the generation begun right after Generation X is much more open to the different races than those from Generation X and before. I think that is fantastic. That is so much more encouraging than the racism being displayed in the contest for the Democratic nomination.

I truly hope that we can get beyond the hatred and the nonsense between the races. I would truly love to see that in my lifetime. It won't happen while The Church is used to promote racism, though.

I hate that I was removed from the environment that I knew my first couple years in elementary school. I was in a VERY integrated school and church. I feel certain that such an influence, had it remained, would have been positive.

I guess all of this just goes to say that there is nothing like being a member of the family of God. I wouldn't trade it for ANYTHING. It is so wonderful to be able to go anywhere in the world and find BROTHERS and SISTERS, MOTHERS and FATHERS.

Alone and need a family? Come to Jesus, and get plugged in! There's always room for one more!


Wade Huntsinger said...

You hit the nail on the head. Our recent church history involved a house church and it was pretty good. I really enjoyed the family affair. You are right about the barriers in church. I would like to see something different.

Jonathan said...

Thanks, Wade.

A lot of people say that it is the difference in church culture that keeps the races apart, but I tend to disagree. I think that it partially stems from an inflexibility between those cultures. If both would bend a little then there could be a whole new paradigm, but we are seeing this more and more in the more modern worship services and non-denominational churches.