My family is…well…different. We do things our own way, and it’s frequently not a way anyone has ever seen anyone else do things. It typically doesn’t put us at odds with others. It just makes us stand out a bit. People notice our "early to bed, early to rise" family attitude. The interests of our children, as well as the things they are not interested in, stand out from those of other children their own age. Odd things entertain us, and we delightfully fill our time in ways that others might find dull and uninteresting. We occasionally think of doing things that might never have occurred to others.
As I stand, we sometimes stand out a bit.
This past weekend, though, we enjoyed being with others who are the same. We delightfully welcomed a beloved family into our home. We met this family years ago when we moved to seminary housing. Now several years – and several children – later, they are some of our family’s dearest friends, even though we have not lived near each other in six years. In fact, the last time we saw them was when they visited us four years ago before leaving to serve their first term as Wycliffe missionaries in the Solomon Islands. But, we have kept in touch over the years, and we’ve all counted the years, months, days, and then hours until our reunion this past Friday night. And what a joyous reunion it was!
I teared up and grinned from ear to ear so many times through the weekend as I saw all seven children mingle and interact. Despite having eleven people under one roof, it was a peaceful weekend as personalities meshed beautifully. But the thing that made me chuckle the most was a conversation with a church member Sunday evening. He told me he’d always thought my children were unique. But, here were four more children just like my three! All seven children have varying interests, personalities, and preferences. And yet all seven were so similar in the ways they interacted with one another and with the world around them. Each unique, yet all so similar.
All through Scripture, there is something about God’s people that is similar to the picture represented by the combination of my family and our friends. As we read, we see individual personalities, strengths, weaknesses, passions, and methods. But, we also see a picture of a unique people. Despite their individual differences, they are bound together in being set apart from those around them. They do things just a bit differently. They interact with one another differently. There is an obvious distinction between them and everyone else.
Now, for our two families, there is nothing super-spiritual about the way our preferences distinguish us from other families around us. We just have so much in common. It’s part of what binds us together, even when separated by miles and years. But, the connection between our two families should do more than remind me of God’s people as recorded in Scripture. It should remind me of the church of today as well.
We as a modern-day church should stand out. Despite our different personalities, interests, and preferences, we should look the same. The world should be able to, at a glance, know that we belong to the body of Christ. That we are different from everyone else around us. Even when we are separated, the world should see that we belong together.
Is it that obvious? Sadly, I think not. Too often our desires and passions flow smoothly with those of everyone else in the world instead of distinctly resembling one another’s. It often requires more than just a casual acquaintanceship to mark us as Christ’s. We don’t dress differently, shop differently, or entertain differently. We blend in where we should stand out. And we don’t stand obviously connected to one another.
What marks you as a member of the body of Christ? What connects you to fellow brothers and sisters around the world, even those you might have never met? My prayer for the body of Christ is that we will begin to stand out together. That we will resemble one another more and more as we approach the day of Christ’s return. That even in our beautiful uniqueness we will appear so alike to the world because of our mutual resemblance to Jesus Christ Himself.