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In church, we are all part of one family.

Paul talks about this in Ephesians. Chapters 4, 5 & 6 are about the “body of Christ“, of which we are all a different part. We must all use our different skills together so that together we can be more like Jesus.

One member in Church might be very committed to Bible reading, but not very good at caring for others.

Another person might be very good at helping others but not very good at understanding the Bible with all its beautiful complexities and layers.

Where one member is weak, another is strong. Together we have potential to be much more than the sum of our members on a Sunday morning.

He gave some to be apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, shepherds and teachers; for the perfecting of the saints, to the work of serving, to the building up of the body of Christ
— Ephesians 4 verses 11 & 12

We are a family of blood relatives - but not in the way that this term is usually used. We are adopted as sons & daughters into GOD’s family through the sacrifice of Jesus.

“When the fullness of the time came, God sent out his Son, born to a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as children. And because you are children, God sent out the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, “Abba, Father!” So you are no longer a bondservant, but a son; and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ.”
— Galatians 4 verses 4 to 7

I want to think a bit about the practical side of our adoption. An adopted child would, naturally, be a little different from their new family. They might look different, have different strengths and weaknesses and also they may have a different outlook on life. However, it is likely that they would start to think and behave in the same way as their family. They might start to value the same things and want to be more like their parents and siblings.

This practical aspect of being an adopted child is applicable to us in church. We are all from very different backgrounds - we might not even know each other if it wasn’t for church. But we are all brought closely together because of the love and sacrifice of Jesus.

At Handsworth church, one time I strongly felt this family love was at our weekend away in the YHA in Stratford-upon-Avon. We were all together for the same reasons, to praise GOD and to enjoy the weekend.

We all have different strengths and weaknesses and naturally we value different things but we have the most important things in common; our love for Jesus and our desire to follow his example.

First of all, when you come together in the assembly, I hear that divisions exist among you, and I partly believe it.
— 1 Corinthians 11 verse 18

Unfortunately, we don’t always work this well together. People do not always naturally get along, so this is something that we have to work at in order to achieve.

In some other walks of life, if you don’t get along with someone then this is not an issue. You can just spend little time with them or ignore them. But in church we are a family! We must stick together through thick and thin, both when we do see eye to eye and when we don’t. To love each other is a choice we have made and an action we must take, it is something that must be cultivated and nurtured.

Much of Paul’s letters are about divisions in the church, especially between the Jews and the Gentiles; those who have been in the family for years and those who are newcomers.

Think about the body. If a person decides they do not like their left hand, they can’t simply ignore it! That is their hand and they have to look after it.

The eye can’t tell the hand, “I have no need for you,” or again the head to the feet, “I have no need for you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.
— 1 Corinthians 12 verses 21 and 22

When we are struggling, it is good to remember that our church is not battling with any new problem, but an old one. We can find great comfort and guidance from the Bible to help us in time of need.

What then? Are we better than they? No, in no way. For we previously warned both Jews and Greeks that they are all under sin.
— Romans 3 verse 9
Brothers, I write no new commandment to you, but an old commandment which you had from the beginning... He who loves his brother remains in the light... But he who hates his brother is in the darkness...
— 1 John 2 verses 7 to 15
Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
— Romans 12 verse 21
Let’s consider how to provoke one another to love and good works, not forsaking our own assembling together, as the custom of some is, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
— Hebrews 10 verses 25 & 25
Speaking to one another in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; giving thanks always concerning all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to God, even the Father; subjecting yourselves to one another in the fear of Christ.
— Ephesians 5 verses 19 to 21

Read together, sing together, pray together. These are things which we do anyway, but the more we do it, the better we will get to know, respect and love each other.

In a good family, one sibling is able to discuss with another about important things, perhaps a bad habit that they need to kick or something important that they are not doing. They can talk about it together without falling out because they know and love each other. This is how we should be together in church. We must endeavor to get to know each other and to encourage each other to do good works. If we love each other through the good times, then we will be able to love and understand each other through the hard times.

We can replace talk about football, music etc. with talk about our favorite scriptures and how they change who we are. We must do this all the more as we look out for the return of Jesus to set up his kingdom in the earth.

But now faith, hope, and love remain—these three. The greatest of these is love.
— 1 Corinthians 13 verse 13