The church to me is a collection of (close) relationships between people and God, their lives and their common faith. This shared faith, that Jesus is the Son of God, is what connects believers all around the world. We who share this common faith naturally have personal relationships with individuals within the church; friendships, brotherly and sisterly, motherly and fatherly ties even. We often break bread and share life together. Even through hardships and times of uncertainty, we learn to lean on each other trusting in what Jesus builds, his church (Ephesians 2:20). But what most makes us collectively connected as the church as a whole, is our own personal relationship to God through faith in Jesus.
Our relationship to God is what drives all other factors in our lives, including our relationships to each other. Jesus said that “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” (John 14:23), and I believe that love is demonstrated in loving our neighbor (Mark 12:31). If we love God, we’re going to have a chance to show it by loving on our neighbors. And in the context of the church, our neighbors are our brothers and sisters in Christ. God says he’s going to make our home with us, as our father. It means he wants to share life with you, but not just with you, the invitation is extended to all who believe because in the father’s house there are many rooms (John 14:2). Paul writes that we are fellow citizens with the saints and members of God’s household (Ephesians 2:19b). It’s with these fellow citizens of the church that we’re given a chance to have a special connection with. With the identity that our faith gives us, as members of God’s household i.e. the church, we can call each other brothers or sisters, even as Jesus did (Mark 3:35).
On a personal level, I have opened up to people in the church and I have been able to connect with individuals that I normally wouldn’t connect with if we didn’t share the same beliefs. And it’s in connecting with these individuals that I start to see how my life fits like a piece of a puzzle that makes up the greater picture that is the church. In this greater perspective, I started to see that I could be of use and help others by serving in the church. Now that I serve in the church, I often feel most connected to the church through the relationships that are brought about because of the service I give to others, I mean serving others. Serving others, service to the church, or helping others, gives us a chance to connect with people and to share moments with them, even if small. It also gives us a greater chance to discover what we’re good at in relation to people, or maybe even what we’re made for. We may even begin to see how we as individuals, with special quirks and talents, fit into a larger whole of what the bible calls the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:27, Ephesians 1:22-23).
Each of us has something with which we can contribute, to encourage and to build up, to use for good. So I hope you are encouraged to serve in any way that you can so that you too can feel connected as I do, especially during this time of pandemic. Many of us are isolated from our friends and family and aren’t able to meet with those we love or care about like we used to. But in the faith we share, it’s important to remember how connected we really are, I mean at a deep spiritual level, despite the physical distance. Us being part of the body, being the church, having brothers and sisters in Christ, pray for each other, send messages to each other, share a verse or two to people that will help lift spirits during this difficult time. Also remember that as part of God’s household, we have the unique opportunity to connect with believers all around the world, spiritually through prayers and visibly through technology.
“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing” 1 Thessalonians 5:11.