Everybody knows that you can't choose your family. Your parents, your siblings, grandparents, aunties, uncles, cousins and even your children are all chosen by God. We don't get to choose what race we'll be, where we'll be born or what status we will grow up in. All these things are chosen for us by God.
From one man he created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and he determined their boundaries. “His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him—though he is not far from any one of us (Acts 17:26-27)
God chooses our families so that we might seek Him. Although sometimes our circumstances may be unfortunate, God knows us and He has chosen our families with His eternal plan in mind. Though we may be born in dysfunction or rejection, this is not His end goal for us. His end goal is that we might find and receive abundant life through His Son; His end goal is that we might be accepted in the Beloved and enter into HIS FAMILY.
So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God's holy people. You are members of God's family. (Ephesians 2:19)
Throughout the Bible the church is described using a number of analogies such as the Body of Christ and God's building. Another way we are described is as a family. When it comes to our natural families many of us are willing to fight for our relationships, even when we were unbelievers. We may not always have been able to deal with matters in a godly way, but because most people recognise the value of family and that they only have one, they are willing to find some grounds of peace. Unfortunately, we cannot say the same thing when it comes to the family of God. As a whole, we simply just do not value the family of God in the same way.
If our natural families were chosen by the Father with such forethought and purpose, how much more do you think our spiritual families are? As a whole we are the family of God yes, but like in the natural, God has given us an intimate family unit that we are to be connected to; we all have a tribe that we are to be ascribed to. And here's the key thing many believers miss... it is Him that chooses. Not us.
It is God who chooses who we are to fellowship with and do ministry with. But because many believers think they choose, they all too quickly change camps as soon as any storms or offences arise. Let me ask you a question... I want you to think back over your life and tell me how many times has your mum, dad, sister or brother really annoyed you... I mean REALLY annoyed you? How many times have they wronged you and made you so angry? I'm confident that there must be at least one time where you did not want to speak to them, right? Let me ask you another question: when you hear stories about parents and children, or siblings who haven't spoken to one another for YEARS because of a dispute what is the first instinctive feeling of ANY human being, saved or unsaved? ...That it is WRONG. Everybody knows it is wrong for FAMILY not to resolve their issues... so why do so many of us fail to see this when it comes to our spiritual families? I would like to propose to you that it is because we do not love one another and we do not appreciate or value the family of God in the way that we truly should.
I am giving you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you too are to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are My disciples, if you have love and unselfish concern for one another.” (John 13:35-35, AMP)
Love for one another is a commandment from our Lord. We are not instructed to tolerate nor be intolerant of one another but to LOVE one another the way Jesus loved us. The love Jesus demonstrated is SACRIFICIAL. The love Jesus demonstrated gives up its own rights and puts others first even if they don't deserve it. The love Jesus demonstrated FORGIVES even whilst being taken advantage of. The love Jesus demonstrated keeps no record of wrong. The love Jesus demonstrated reaches out to and endures with those who have hurt and abused us and who are hurt and abused, with compassion. We are talking about a different level of love all together… a love that requires maturity. Many of us would like to believe that we are mature in the faith, but as soon as offences, trials and tribulations come we do not endure but up and leave.
But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing. (James 1:4)
The maturity that the Lord wants to produce in us requires steadfast patience and endurance - we cannot be moved by circumstances. If we truly want to grow we must endure and if we are going to endure we must go through suffering. It is through suffering (undeserved) that Christ learnt obedience and it is this obedience that revealed His love for the Father. The same is true for us. If we will not endure with one another (i.e. love) what we are really demonstrating is a lack of obedience (love) for God. If we will not remain planted during the hard times, we will never flourish/ produce fruit in due season.
Those that be planted in the house of the LORD shall flourish in the courts of our God. (Psalms 92:13)
In order to flourish, we must remain planted; however, WHERE we are planted is just as important as remaining planted. To be planted speaks of permanence, it speaks of being grounded. If you are planted it means that no matter the weather, you STAY right where you are. It is the Lord who chooses WHERE you are to be planted, but it is you who chooses to REMAIN. Many people "feel" that God understands why they leave a local gathering and so miss the true heart and desire of God for the assembling together of His people. Iron sharpens iron and sometimes in this process sparks do fly. The Lord chooses our spiritual family not so that we can "feel good", but so that we can GROW. The Lord always has purpose in mind when He chooses our relationships. The only reason we should leave or move fellowships is because the Lord leads us to as a part of His purpose for our lives, not because of difficult circumstances.
Many think that the assembling of ourselves together is only about hearing the word and so can easily justify not having to physically assemble on that premise. However, just as in a natural family, the family reunion often brings with it many unpredictable dynamics. Things can seem one way when you are apart, but as soon as all the family are together both new joys and memories can be created, as well as old wounds revisited. It is both the hard times as well as the good that you have been through and overcome together that really cement a family bond. If you accept only the good that comes with your family, but are unwilling to extend the love that covers a multitude of sin, you will forever miss the opportunity to grow from and with those the Lord has designed to be your spiritual family unit. The assembling of ourselves together is a family reunion. No matter how advanced technology gets, it can never replace a hug or holy kiss from a loving family member.
The assembling of ourselves together forces us to grow in a way that nothing else does because it places us in a pressurised environment. In such a setting we have but two choices: to make it work or to give up. If we truly want to see the promise and the blessing of the Lord, then we have but one choice, which is to love one another as Christ has loved us. His love never gives up hope – and His love never fails. The assembling of ourselves together forces us to put the word of God into practice, where our love for one another is not only in words but also in action; and where our love for one another is not according to the flesh, but of the spirit.
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. (1 John 3:18, KJV)