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15th July 2012
The depth and quality of 'life together' in the early church was inspiring. The church is God's family – we are members of God's household, brothers and sisters in Christ, coming to our Father in heaven. It's not just 'me and God', but God has chosen us to be part of his family, the church, interacting with each other, getting to know God better and becoming more Christ-like together.
When a family is working well, it is a powerful unit where we experience love, acceptance, security, boundaries, discipline – learning right from wrong, and where we learn to care for others and learn about ourselves, with different generations together. Most families will also experience conflict, at times, and in his letter to Timothy, the apostle Paul gives some instructions to help us understand how we are to treat one another in church life.
For a family unit to function well, it requires high investment from all members. There might be different roles – with mum and dad carrying a lot of the responsibility for a season, while the children 'freeload' as they mature and are discipled into adulthood – but each has a part to play and a responsibility to keep the family in harmony.
Whereas we might come to a business as a consumer, to a government agency with a right to the service, to a club where it's about our enjoyment, or to a show where we are there to be entertained, none of these perspectives is right for family/church life.
Throughout the Bible, there is a high expectation as to how the members of God's family will treat each other. For example, a community that cares for and honours the elderly is one that honours God. Older men are to be exhorted respectfully; older women are to be esteemed; younger men are to be treated as brothers; younger women in absolute purity.
The way we act towards others should not be predominantly shaped by how they've acted towards us, but by how God has acted towards us! We reflect to others Christ's generosity to us.
Verses: 1 Timothy 4:11-5:10 (see also Colossians 3:12-14)
Food for thought:
Posted by Paul Mann
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