Disclaimer: Before I continue, I want to establish one important thing. We are doing things well, but I want to encourage us to go deeper and to be better.
As a church we are a welcoming, open-armed community. In Santa Ana, we have been attracting people from all sorts of backgrounds with all sorts of stories. People have been sticking around because of our warm smiles and open hearts. Those are things that we do well. We create a safe place where people feel accepted and loved. However…
That is just the beginning.
What do we do with the family member that we may not get along with? Or look different from? How do we respond when a family member offends us? Do we avoid that person? Do we hold a grudge? Do we exclude them from our inner circle? Please don’t misunderstand me; I know that boundaries are necessary to maintain healthy relationships, but I want to challenge us to cross over those natural barriers that we have built between ourselves and our brothers and sisters.
You see, as a church, we are members of a family in which we have no say over who is in or who is out. Once a person accepts Christ, whether we like it or not, we are stuck together. Sure, we get to choose the church we go to and if we’re lucky enough we find people we can do life with at that church. But what if we’re called to more? What if we’re supposed to go beyond our inner-circle and build bridges with those who we may not normally hang out with? We’re stuck together, remember?
There are no returns or exchanges on family members. Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t have returned the sibling that got on our nerves. It just wasn’t possible. Even if we wanted to, we couldn’t exchange our parents for another set. We are born into the family we are born into. There will never be a time when we get to ask God, “What were you thinking when you let this one in?” The question would never be entertained. We are called to see and love one another equally.
I was reminded of a passage in Matthew 5:46-48, with Jesus saying:
“If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your Heavenly Father is perfect.”
God asked me this question in reflection of this passage: What separates the way you love others if you’re only loving the people that are easy to love? Will people see me in that type of love? Will people come to know me in that type of love?
I know, there are people that are hard to love and for whatever reason as much as we want to love them, we can’t seem to get ourselves to do it. That’s okay. I’m just challenging us to dig deeper and to really go after the family member we may not usually go after. Love the one that is harder to love. Whether we like it or not, they’re our family and we must not only love, but we must love well. New people will continue to come to Newsong. Our family will only grow. We need to be prepared. Not everyone who comes to Newsong will look like you, sound like you, think like you, or act like you. It will be difficult to love some, but in the end, we must love. Why? Because…
Joe Choi is a Newsong Intern in Spiritual Development. To learn more about Newsong’s internship program, check out newsong.net/internships