Theme: Love must be learned
[Read More] thoughts on Day 5 of Rick Warren’s 40 Days of Community.
Of course, this is particularly true of the body of Christ, which is the focus of today’s devotional. That is, the church is a family, and we are all brothers and sisters in Christ — whether we like it or not! I’ve often meditated on how the bond to even a distant relative is far more enduring than even the closest friend. This is not always a comforting thought… but usually it is.
More importantly, this connection is not just a passive bond, but an active Source of redemption. All the things we failed to get from our biological family — and still long for, even if we fail to realize it — are intended to be nurtured by our spiritual family. Rick lists three key benefits we can receive from our spiritual family:
I really like all three of those, as well as the ordering: first relationships, then character, and finally values. Sometimes we try to build character without relationship, or instill values without character, which can do more harm than good. I also like the (implicit) symmetry: it takes community to create character, but also character to create community — and both mostly happen by implicit activity and modeling, rather than explicit teaching.
To be sure, good teaching — and effective leadership — are also important: sadly, not all churches share this vision, and fulfill this purpose. I am very grateful to have found one we can trust to “accept, support, and challenge” us in the quest. I am deeply grateful to our parents for the wonderful, godly foundation they laid in our families of origin. However, I want more: not just in our church, but also (someday) in our own family.
God, thank you so much that you didn’t just give us a Book, or a Teacher, but a Family. That we can belong, be accepted, and be valued as part of a lifelong community of learners. Thank you that we are not (or need not be) frozen in time with what we learned from our parents, or limited to what we can figure out on our own. Rather, we have the extraordinary privilege of being renewed by your Spirit, Word, Body and Blood as manifested in the community of believers. Teach me to open my heart to your family, that I may receive (and be) the blessing your desire. In Jesus name I pray, Amen.