“We are Family”
Notes on a talk brought by John MacDiarmid for Poole Christian Fellowship at Poole High on 15 April 2018
Let’s go right back to the start:
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. (Genesis 1v 1-2)
There then follows the account of God’s creation over six days which culminates in a piece of creative work like no other:
Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals,[a] and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
So God created mankind in his own image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them. (Genesis 1v26-27)
There is so much that could be said about this, but the key points I want us to see today are that:
1. We are created in God’s image.
That doesn’t make us God. Or gods, or even are very like God – but it does mean that we are more like God than anything else in the universe. We carry with us creativity, a sense of right and wrong, ability to love and be loved. What amazing people we are – including those who do not know God. We see His image everywhere we look, every time we have an interaction with another human.
2. God is Community
It sounds strange to say that we, as monotheists (believing in one God) can say that God is community, but look at the phrase from Genesis 1: God says “Let us make man…” Let US make man. Does that mean that we believe in more than one God? Not at all! We are triune monotheists – we believe in one God who lives eternally in three persons. This is well beyond our capacity to understand – but sometimes we have to accept that our understanding is not up to the mark!
God has always, eternally, as one God, lived in community, with Father, Son and Holy Spirit enjoying eternal love and fellowship together. God is family!
Now, let’s put the first two together:
If we are created in God’s image, and if God is community, our third point follows:
3. We are designed to live in community
Spurgeon said: “There is nothing so unchristian as the solitary believer”. We live our lives before God with others. We saw that again and again when we looked at the book of Ephesians last year. God wants us to live in community and to be together in our service of Him. We are seeing it in our current series in Ezra: God’s people returned together to their land and together started work on the temple. At the end of time there will be a joyful community worshipping and praising him together.
And for us too, we live our Christian lives as a part of a family – meeting together, worshipping together enjoying God and one another together.
So, to consider what this means for us, let’s look at some verses from the book of Hebrews:
Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10v19-25)
Here the writer is urging God’s people to continue in their faith, not to give up, to keep on persevering. And how to they do that? They meet together. Meeting together is a critical part of our lives as God’s people. So, we meet on Sundays, we meet midweek, we meet informally in each others’ home and in coffee shops. We meet for a weekend away together every couple of years.
The text says “Let us consider how to…”
So let’s do that for a minute. Let us consider how we can do this work of fellowship.
Since I’ve been involved in church life, churches have been exploring the best way to this to happen. Our current systems involves us meeting together on Sunday – that’s great, but something is missing. We need to meet in small groups, gathered around a shared purpose, to encourage, each other, pray for each other and to work out what it means to be God’s family. We launched our new systems of meeting in small groups at the start of this year, and have run it for one term. Today, we launch the second term. As we consider how to be the family of God, let’s embrace the chance to be a part of a group of believers, gathered around a particular interest, working out what it means to be God’s family in Poole.