Family matters so much to me that I recently drove 12 hours across the South-Eastern United States to show up for my niece and nephews’ birthday. It matters so much that my elderly grandparents would travel 400 miles, then sit in 100-degree heat to witness my college graduation.
We do things like that for family, because families are our priority. They take precedence in our lives, therefore we do hard, inconvenient, uncomfortable things for their sake. We are willing to share and sacrifice for them, because we are a part of them, and they are a part of us.
And when God brought us into a new covenantal relationship with Himself through Christ, He not only fashioned us into a people belonging to Him, but also a people belonging to each other. Just as I share the traits of my dad with three siblings, I also share the traits of a heavenly Dad with my spiritual family. His characteristics and Spirit, and therefore our very lives, we share in common with one another- with the body of Christ.
In belonging to Him, I now belong to them.
To say that I love Him and not them, my spiritual family, demonstrates that my love for Him is misguided. Just as I would do whatever it took to make it to my niece and nephews’ birthday, I do what it takes each week to exemplify that my spiritual family, the church, is my priority. And we collectively reveal to our Father God that worshiping Him together takes precedence for us.
Sundays are my priority because I love our ever-present Father, and I love my family. Therefore, my pursuit of the Father is not singularly a private endeavor, but also a corporate one- fleshed out in community and accountability and worship and confession and service.
It matters that I show up, that I’m present and engaged. It matters that you do too – because when our pattern is to be absent from one another, we neglect the deepest and richest part of who we are.
Sundays are special days because I get to be reunited with my family.
Our day of worship is God’s gift to His children-a gift that is living and active and meant to be fully participatory. After a taxing week of life has come and gone, on this day we enjoy the goodness of being together while worshipping our Father as one. Sundays are our dinner table. Just as my siblings and I gather around our table to connect and share and celebrate together, so does God’s family gather at His banquet table each Sunday to share and celebrate and remember Him together.
On that day, in the presence of an ever-loving Father, I am reminded that life is grander than my singular existence, that my family ties reach so much farther than I could imagine, and that it’s a special day where God’s people across the globe are worshipping in their own part of the world, yet through the same Spirit.
On that day together, we get to grow.
I grow when I use my gifts to glorify God and edify His body, and you grow when you do the same. I grow when I get to serve my church in capacities that are sacrificial or stretching for me, you grow when you do the same. And we grow together when we serve and sacrifice on behalf of the body together.
We grow because our knowledge of our Father is increased through the teaching of His scriptures. We grow when we confess our sin and are restored to right relationship with Him. We grow when we give back in generosity through tithes and offerings, and therefore partner with Him in the building of His kingdom. We grow in our courage, seeing that there are warriors of the faith worshipping and fighting alongside us each week. Then we grow deeper in our commitment to one another, our truest family united under Christ- whose blood may not run through our veins, but has covered each of our sins completely from now until eternity.
Therefore, how and when and how often we gather as family should matter. It matters that I show up, that I’m present and engaged. It matters that you do too – because when our pattern is to be absent from one another, we neglect the deepest and richest part of who we are.
I love my family too much to let that happen, and Christ loves His family too much to see our time together forsaken.