Friday, November 9, 2012

Recipe for a Happy Fellowship and Home

A fall day in Wisconsin
     This past August, my husband and I celebrated our 41st wedding anniversary.  We have been fortunate to know the Lord all the years of our marriage and have had many opportunities to serve in various church fellowships.  I wish I could say that every experience we had was a positive one.  However, not all fellowships are healthy and happy ones.  We have witnessed splits over minor issues, pastor bashing, and we, ourselves, have had personal attacks from fellow saints.
     It would have been very easy to leave the organized fellowship of believers and never return, but God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy, restored us and allowed us to find a healthy place to worship Him.  Our fellowship of believers is not perfect (there are none that fall into this category this side of Heaven), but it is a place that follows the guidelines that Peter laid down for believers in his letter.
     I Peter 4: 7-10 gives us some glimpses of what it takes to make a healthy church fellowship especially in the times in which we live.  In his letter, he writes:  "The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer.  Above all, keep fervent in your love for one another, because love covers a multitude of sins.  Be hospitable to one another without complaint.  As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God."
     These keys to good fellowship are important in our homes as well as our churches.   We need to be a people of prayer and sober judgment.  The world is full of pitfalls, pain and heartache.  There are many deceivers out there trying to grab the spotlight, so it behooves us to keep our thinking clear as we base it on the Word of God through prayer.
A view from our window in Kentucky
     Secondly, we need to act in love towards one another.  We have seen so many instances in our current fellowship where people who are going through difficult days have been brought back to spiritual health and restoration through the love and acceptance of Jesus Christ.  Bashing people over the head with the Bible or condemning them for their shortcomings is not what the Lord did as He walked among us.  This only causes people to put up their defenses.  The same can be said for our homes and families too.  Love does, indeed, "cover a multitude of sins."  It can keep both home and church together in the most challenging situations.
     Peter encouraged the early church to also show hospitality.  Often in our rat race society, we overlook the importance of taking time out to break bread with fellow believers.  It's even hard to do this in our own homes with our family.  Yet, the Lord wants us to open our homes and hearts to others without complaining.  We don't have to have a large fancy meal, nor do we have to have a home that looks like Martha Stewart's!  Instead, we can keep things as simple as a cup of coffee and a dessert.  What is most important here is the feeling of acceptance and the act of communication with those in the Body of Christ or in our families.  Some of the greatest ministry that is ever accomplished is often done around a table while breaking bread.
     One of the last things that Peter points out is that we are to use the gift or gifts that God has given to us to serve one another.  Both in the church and in our homes, we should be good stewards with these God-given abilities that the Lord has blessed us with.  For example, I know that the Lord has given me a gift of encouragement.  It is important that I seek Him daily to see how I may encourage my husband, my children and others in the Body of Christ.  If we do not know what our gift is, there are certainly many good books and Bible studies available that deal with this.  We need to seek this out and ask the Lord to show us.  Then, we need to use our gifts to bless one another.
      A healthy church fellowship and a healthy home can thrive when these guidelines are followed.  Peter is correct to remind believers that we must be sober in judgment for the purpose of prayer, fervent in our love for one another, hospitable even when its not convenient for us and that we must be good stewards with the gifts which God has given us.  If we seek to live this out in our church fellowships and homes, we will see positive growth in the Body of Christ.  It will bring glory and honor to the Lord as well.  Selah!

I welcome your thoughts and insights as always.  How has God led you to be hospitable?  How is He working to build your church fellowship and family?


Christina said...

Wonderful truths here, Barbara. I can tell you that your church is blessed to have you and hubby in their fellowship. Thank you for these guidelines -- I say a hearty "amen" to each and everyone. I don't know where we would be without our covenant community. And as women of faith, we should be about the business of building up our homes and churches for the glory of God. God bless you!

Barbara Thayer said...

Amen...dear friend. God is so good to present us not only with the gift of salvation through His calling but also to give us guidelines for living in community with Him and one another. Blessings sweet sister!