Down through the years, I have been asked by people outside of our fellowship to describe the Church of God. My standard response has always been one word, FAMILY.
The Scriptures have a lot to say about family. The creation story records the beginning of marriage and family life. Immediately following you have one of the first stories of family trouble (Cain and Abel). The nation of Israel grew out of Jacob’s family. The Passover meal is a family celebration. Jewish kings were descendants in David’s family line. Jesus came to us out of this family tree. He introduced us to the idea that God is our Father and we are his children. This is why Paul began one of his famous prayers with these words “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom His whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name” (Ephesians 3:14-15 NIV).
Families are unique entities. Each family bears shared characteristics, yet is filled with many distinct and often colorful individuals. There are men and women, young and old, tall and short, skinny and not skinny. There are distant parents and smothering ones. Crazy uncles, weird aunts, distant cousins and treasured siblings dot the family landscape. One thing connects them all. They are related by blood.
As Christians, we are brought together as the family of God through the blood of Jesus Christ. We share a common story. There is a special bond that transcends cultural, economic and ethnic differences. We have the same Father and Elder Brother. Our lives are marked by this relationship.
Each minister in the Church of God has a different story about how they connected to our movement. Some, like me and Alice, were born into families who were already part of the Church of God. Others of us came into the Church of God family at various ages and under varying circumstances. We all have chosen to connect and channel the ministries God has given us through this family.
Like all families, the Church of God is not perfect. We have our own “crazy uncles and weird aunts”. Sometimes we celebrate one another and other times we disappoint. If we are not careful, we can allow the enemy to trick us into focusing on our hurts, failures and frustrations, to the point that we define the church that is our spiritual family only by what we perceive as negative. It is easy to forget the righteous acts, sacrificial service and anointed ministry that touches millions of people around the world, through the faithful ministry of Church of God ministers. We never want to ignore things that need to be corrected. We always want to strive to live up to the family name. But we never want to forget that we are family! When one of us hurts, we all hurt. When one is blessed, we are all blessed. With all of our strengths and weaknesses, ups and downs, successes and failures, we are the Church of God and we are a family!
Thank you CA/NV Church of God for being a family. Alice and I look forward to seeing you at the “family reunion”, aka, Refreshing, June 16-19, 2015 in Fresno,CA.