The word family creates a different picture in everyone’s mind.
For me, when I think about family another word which comes to mind is “surrogate.” Google defines this word as “a substitute, especially a person deputizing for another in a specific role or office.” For some, this word conjures up images of women who carry a pregnancy for another family. My image looks immensely different.
You may live within walking distance of your extended family. Others may have to drive to a neighboring state. When I was 12, my family moved 11,000 miles from my nearest blood relative. In the missionary world, many times unrelated family units become an extended family of their own. I still have numerous parents of friends I refer to as Aunt and Uncle. It is an adaptive support system helping families in a time when it is hard to go it alone.
Family can be one of the tightest forms of community, but even the Bible has examples of dysfunctional family. In Genesis alone, we find a family where one brother kills another because of a gift; one brother steals the inheritance of another, at the encouragement of his mom; out of jealousy, a brother is sold by the rest into slavery, and dad is told he was killed by an animal. And you thought your family had issues!
At Southern Hills, one of our core values is “We Are Family.” If your family resembles one of these in Genesis, this value may not appeal to you. But your church family can be different. Not perfect, but different.
Because family stands together in the hard times, your church, your surrogate family, will come into the devastation of your situation and stand by your side, encouraging and loving on you, even when all hope seems lost. Life groups are intended to provide even more connection, more intentional relationship with your church family. These are people who know you and will walk along with you, even in “the valley of the shadow of death.” My life group has walked with me through some hard, heart-breaking, soul-wrenching times. They are my family.
Let the church be the church. Allow the church to be your family, standing shoulder to shoulder with you, in the good times, great times, bad times, and devastating times.
Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. –
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