I always enjoy when I get a chance to spend time with my family. Invariably, there is lots of laughter to be had. I've already posted about laughter, so I won't go into that again. What I will say, however, is that there is something about my family dynamic that just makes laughter so much more likely to happen. Perhaps it lies somewhere in the fact that we all like to tell stories (usually about absurd occurrences we have come across).
Another reason I enjoy spending time with my family is that there's simply something to be said about the sense of familiarity that makes one feel at ease. It comes as no surprise to me that the words "family" and "familiar" are so closely related (pun intended).
The more I think about how great it is to spend time with my family, the more I realize how often we use familial language outside of our biological families. How often have you heard people say someone is like mother or father to them? How many times have you heard people referred to as our brothers and sisters, especially in church settings. So many churches identify themselves as families. I cannot help but think how interesting this all is.
I consider myself extremely blessed to have a family that I truly enjoy being with. This is sadly not the case for many people. While the idea of church being a family works out pretty well for me, I can see how it might cause others to shy away. If a person's concept of family is negative, however, why would they want to experience that part of their life elsewhere? The easy route is to say that the church could be a surrogate family, taking over where the biological family failed, but I think there's a better solution.
Based on my experience, churches really can be like families, dysfunctions and all. As loving and happy as churches can be, there are also the stress and struggles to are a part of lives being lived closely together. Inevitably, there will be conflict. This is where I find the grace found in 1 Corinthians 12 when it speaks of one body and many members.
Though there may be conflict, though we may not always get along, though we may struggle in "loving" each other all the time, we can remind ourselves that we are all part of the body of Christ. Just as when we get aches and pains in our physical bodies, so too can we have aches and pains in the body of Christ. In the end, we do not reject parts of ourselves, but find ways to be restored to the fullness of health. Let us find a way to be fully restored as a church and as a family.