Christians in the military face a dilemma most people don’t have to address, either at all, or as frequently as those serving their country. Many Christians face opposition or antagonism in their workplace when they acknowledge their faith and take stands for righteous living as defined by the Bible; yet not all believers need to find a new church home every two to three years! Living with my daughter for the past six years, and hearing about some of my son and his wife’s experiences through their PCSs (Permanent Change of Station), have given me a greater appreciation for the many struggles faced by “all-in” Christians serving in the armed forces.
This post isn’t necessarily about those serving in the military, though; it is about finding a “home” amongst other believers in Jesus.
I think most Christians recognize these verses in Hebrews (10:24, 25): “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”
For those who have been wounded by other Christians, who may see the church full of hypocrites, who may have more important things to do on Sunday mornings (or any other time of the week), or don’t think they need fellowship with other believers, the imperative to “meet together” is optional and not worth considering.
This post isn’t about that, either. …not exactly, anyway.
It’s about belonging; it’s about a place for the broken and sinners (that is all of us) to find hope, healing, and a God-appointed destiny.
I recently decided to read through the New Testament again to update my New Testament prayer journal, and I kind of got stuck in the first chapter of Matthew (this is going to be a looooong project!) reading through the genealogy of Jesus. My attention was grabbed (I noticed this before when I read this chapter, but I wanted to give it more attention this time) by some of the names mentioned here. For instance:
“…and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar…” (Matthew 1:3)
Judah separated himself from the rest of his family; he met and “took” a Canaanite woman who bore him two sons (the Canaanite people were notorious for their idolatry). Judah took a wife, Tamar, for his first-born son, Er—who was put to death for his wickedness by the Lord. Tamar was then given to the second son, who behaved wickedly in God’s sight, so the Lord put him to death, also.
Judah told Tamar to remain a widow in her father’s house until his third son grew up; however, Judah did not keep his word to give her to his son, blaming her for what happened to his other sons. So, she dressed as a prostitute, sitting by the side of the road when her father-in-law walked by – and he did not recognize her, but went in to her…
When Judah found out that Tamar had been “immoral”, he wanted to have her stoned—until he realized that he was the father of her twins, Perez and Zerah.
…and Perez the father of Hezron…and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse, and Jesse the father of David the king.” (Matthew 1:5, 6a)
Rahab was a prostitute, and Ruth was a Moabite (Moab was the result of an incestuous relationship between Lot and his older daughter—she initiated the union for fear that she would never meet someone to marry and have children).
“…and Jesse the father of David the king. And David was the father of Solomon by the wife of Uriah…” (Matthew 1:6).
Jesus, perfect Redeemer, Lion of the tribe of Judah, was a son, a descendant of David, who was an adulterer and murderer, and Solomon, known for his wisdom and notorious for his many foreign wives.
Yet, Grace and Justice win!
Just as those of questionable character and heritage found a place in the lineage and family of Jesus, there is a place in His body, the church, for all who have received Him.
“And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So, then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…” (Ephesians 2:17-19).
I cannot help but be moved by the fact that many people who seem to be most comfortable in church, should be the least comfortable. And those who are the most broken amongst us, who may feel the least comfortable, should be the ones truly at home! …as Jesus’ words confirm, “And the Pharisees and their scribes grumbled at his disciples, saying, ‘Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?’ And Jesus answered them, ‘Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.’” (Luke 5:30-32).
We moved earlier this year, not sure if you know that I live with my daughter, who is in the Navy, and my granddaughter—because my daughter’s job takes her away from the small one quite a bit. This is our family dynamic: A divorced grandma, a single mom, and a little girl. The search for a church home hasn’t been quite as easy with this move as the ones in the past. More this time than past moves, I’ve had to let go of my expectations of what a church should be or should offer as far as “ministries.” Absolutely no compromise about core tenets of the faith—inerrancy and God-breathed infallibility of the Bible, the Trinity, the divinity and humanity of Jesus Christ, the fruit, the gifts, and the power of the Holy Spirit…
Yet, church families—like all families—have differing dynamics, and it is God’s Spirit who leads us, and works in our lives to knit us together with other believers.
This post is about more than finding just the right place where we “fit”, though, and the ministries we desire for nurturing our relationship with God, our Father, our Savior, and the Holy Spirit. I’m writing about fitting ourselves into a body of believers where we can be used by God to embrace, encourage, and support others—turning our eyes outwards from what we want or expect to how we can serve those sitting in the rows surrounding us.
That is my hope and prayer for every one of us…