20 Jun “Life in the Family of God” by Hayley Hutchins
It is a burden on many of our hearts, how many of the next generation have rejected the church and the faith they were raised in. The rate of departure is high, and the pain this causes the parents and mentors of those individuals is deep. Recently my sister was sharing her heart with me on this subject, and she observed that though she is grateful for the faithfulness of our parents, it was not their example that kept her in the faith. Instead, it was the real love and relational commitment she experienced from her spiritual family that confirmed for her that the grace of Jesus our parents claimed was actually reality.
While the softness of her heart to embrace the faithfulness shown to her by her church is 100% attributable to the grace of God, her experience also bears out the reason we bother with baby dedication ceremonies: the promise to lift up and mentor and invest in those kiddos is an acknowledgement of the fact that our God uses the love His church has for each other to make His church grow.
This doesn’t change the fact that the people of Jesus are, if I may be frank, dysfunctional. For as many positive ways I’ve been built up by believers, there have also many times believers have failed me. Salvation doesn’t automatically make us mature super-Christians without grating personalities, childhood baggage, or the daily struggle with sin. But like those foster family advertisements at the bus stop say, “You don’t have to be a perfect person to be a perfect parent.” Our sin and our failure to be a good example are still opportunities to encourage others that constant connection to Jesus is both real and necessary because His grace covers our failings.
Matthew 1 tells the lineage of Jesus, the 42 generations through Israel’s history that brought our Messiah, and in that list of names it never fails to strike me just how many of those honored by inclusion have had their bad acts memorialized in Scriptures. David’s most iconic transgression, his murder of Uriah and adultery with Bathsheba, is specifically called out in this list, while he is simultaneously given the honor of being the mid-way marker of Jesus’s genealogy. Embarrassing for him, but what a great example that our bad acts are the very thing used by God to show the power of His grace and thereby multiply His church.
Life in community with fellow believers is not easy; the love for the church Jesus requires of us demands supernatural intervention. As my parents often reminded me and my siblings, “We will fail you and our love will not be enough for you, but Jesus’s love will never fail you.” Humility and authenticity about the vastness of our need for the One who forgives, unifies, disciplines, and restores is an important mechanism for showing Jesus’s love to others. Or as Jesus said, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” (John 15:9)