Strengthening the Bonds With Our Spiritual Family
Posted by January 7, 2020on
God has called us into His Church, which is a spiritual family. How can we develop stronger bonds with and learn more about our brothers and sisters in God’s Church?
Psalm 133 begins with “how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity.” This verse is quoted regularly at Sabbath services. But do we really understand and appreciate what this means?
In this blog, I would like to share three examples from my own experiences. These were inspired by a comment from a sermon: “No matter where you go in this world, God’s people will always make you feel at home.”
No one ever comes
When we were attending a past Feast in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, my husband and I met a wonderful couple who taught us how to make gumbo. After enjoying each other’s company, we made plans to visit them in the summer. As time went by, we moved the visit up to the spring. We were eager to make this trip. On our travel day, about an hour and a half from our destination, we encountered a terrible rainstorm.
We decided to call our friends to let them know where we were and what time we expected to arrive. The husband told the details to his wife, and we could hear in the background, “They’re really coming? No one ever comes.” We laughed—and laughed more when we arrived and exchanged hugs.
During that weekend, we shared stories and ate great food. (They even gave me plants to take home for my garden.)
This little adventure was the first time we had accepted an offer to visit after meeting someone new, planning to go to a place we’ve never gone before and not knowing what the results would be. But it led to another visit and phone calls that have lasted over the years.
The lesson is this: We have all probably been a part of a conversation along the lines of, “You must come and visit.” “Sure I would love to.” But nothing comes of it. Yet following up and actually going can be the beginning of relationships that last a lifetime.
It doesn’t have to mean going a long distance. Sometimes just following up to visit a local widow or widower, get together with a young adult, or welcome a new family to the congregation is all it takes to begin truly building the bonds of our Church family.
Flipping eggs and sipping liquor
This year during the weeklong FI Continuing Education classes, we spent five days studying the Word of God, focusing on different topics with 46 other brethren. In that class we had a chance to reconnect with old friends and make new ones. While there, we stayed at the home of close friends.
One morning during breakfast I was struggling to make Rodney eggs “over easy” because breaking the yoke is my biggest challenge. One of our hosts offered to show me a better way. He asked for the pan and flipped the egg. I was shocked and delighted to learn something new that made this task easier. The next morning, I was taught how to flip two eggs at the same time. Although every morning thereafter the eggs were made for us, I made a promise to myself that I would practice it once I got home.
At the end of the week, we all were invited to dinner at the home of longtime friends where we caught up, talked about various subjects (including my least favorite one—snakes) and shared a meal with drinks. Rodney and I had our first taste of scotch. Not only did we try it for the first time, but we were instructed how to drink it without feeling a burning sensation and to be able to capture the true taste of the drink.
This was a learning experience in many ways—learning more about God’s plan, what He expects of us, and how we are to serve and care for others. But we also spent time being introduced to new things.
As these experiences are implanted into our lives, we strengthen the bonds of our relationships and create more memories with each other.
So, what’s your story?
Maybe you’re asking yourself, how can I really get to know or start a conversation with someone I have just met? Where do I even start? Hopefully our next experience will help.
Four years ago at the Feast of Tabernacles, we were invited to lunch with someone who made it clear that he wanted to get to know us. As we sat down for our meal, his first words were:
“So, what’s your story?”
While that question is direct, it showed his interest, and he asked many more questions to learn more about us. We went on to explain how we both were called into God’s truth and how we met each other. From that lunch, another family relationship was formed.
From this experience, we learned that if you want to get to know someone, be willing to ask open-ended questions that will make the other person comfortable and let him or her know that you are truly interested and that you are giving your undivided attention.
We show love by reaching out and showing others that they are valuable and worth taking the time to get to know. This is especially true if they are new to God’s way of life.
We can also share in the excitement of others by hearing their successes and celebrations, stories of how God opened their minds and how He has worked in their lives. The stories and topics are endless and are waiting to be shared if we spend the time and ask questions to learn.
Spending time with others is valuable and should not be overlooked. We have the example in the Bible of the beginning of the New Testament Church in Acts 2:44-47: “So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.”
God has called us and made us a family. Although we may not be able to see and spend time with each other every day, let’s be sure to take advantage of those special opportunities we have together to create memories, learn about each other, and build and strengthen the bonds of unity and love.
To learn more, read our article on “How to Fellowship.”