Yesterday morning, my Sunday School class was discussing this question: How do we be a church family and love each other?
I've been thinking about it since, and believe the first response is introspective.
1. Ask yourself: Am I reaching out to others? Do I speak to those who are hurting, or do I try to avoid them because I don't know what to say, or wonder if they need their space, or … whatever.
So, maybe the first step is simply to reach out. Despite what we feel is our own ineptitude, we just need to reach out. Let the other person know that they are seen, loved, thought about and prayed for.
2. Secondly, connect. Sign up for that group, activity, etc. Just do it. Don't wait for someone to personally invite you, just do it. And then once you are there, talk to someone. Don't stand on the sidelines waiting for someone to approach you. Take those baby steps across the room to talk with someone. Even if you can just squeak out a "hello"--great! You just overcame a huge hurdle (can you tell I'm a true-blue introvert?). And I'm sure the other person will be grateful.
3. Make your needs known. When you are hurting, contact someone. Even if it is a one word text. "Help!" Let someone know your needs. If you want a church leader to contact you, then contact them personally to let them know your wishes. Or call and make an appointment. Or several appointments. Whatever it takes.
4. Show mercy. If you feel slighted by someone, remember everyone is human, and many are in the midst of their own battles. My family has been going through an extremely painful year. A few months ago, during the thick of it, I didn't want to go to church or see people. I did go, but I felt like a zombie. I am sorry if I slighted anyone during that time. It wasn't intentional. But my point is, you never know what the person sitting in the pew next to you, or even preaching from the pulpit, is going through. Have mercy.
Yes, this topic has been on my heart and mind. Yet I know I am not alone. Many legit Jesus followers struggle with it. How do we be the church? But I do feel the answer lies in addressing the question to ourselves: How do I become the church? Or, how do I love others as Jesus' hands, eyes, ears and feet?
PS - My apologies to my Sunday School class. They have a more modern, cool and hip name, but I can never remember it. So I'm just keeping it old school.
All photos courtesy of pixabay.com.