Christian congregations are often referred to as a "church family." As a group of people we have lots in common - a heavenly Father who loves us, a Brother who loved us to death, and a Counselor who intercedes and helps us daily.
But some have the expectation that because we are a "church" family, we should be one happy family. Kind, considerate, understanding and always full of love for one another. Those are not always the marks of our natural family and it is silly to expect that things would be different with the "church" family.
One of our members gave me an interesting devotional piece written by a favorite author, Philip Yancey. It's entitled, "Building Community."
"Community is the place where the person you least want to live with always lives," says Henri Nouwen. Often we surround ourselves with the people we most want to live with, which forms a club or a clique, not a community. Anyone can form a club; it takes grace, shared vision and hard work to form a community.
The Christian church was the first institution in history to bring together on equal footing Jews and Gentiles, men and women, slaves and free. The apostle Paul waxed eloquent on this "mystery," which for ages past was kept hidden from God." By forming a community out of diverse members, Paul said, we have the opportunity to capture the attention of the world and even the supernatural world beyond us (Ephesians 3:9-10)
In some ways the church has sadly failed in this assignment. Still, church is the one place I visit that brings together generations: infants still held in their mother's arms, children who squirm and giggle at all the wrong times, responsible adults who know how to act appropriately at all times, and those who may drift off to sleep if the preacher drones on too long.
If we want the community experience God is offering to us, we have reason to seek a congregation of people "not like us."