A few weeks back we were in church sitting in front of a family who has a two-year-old son. Abigail was quite excited to see her friend and they were just playing and giggling. I’m trying to be Responsible Mom and keep them from making too much noise, but neither set of parents had much success in quieting the joy. Then a woman behind me gently touched my arm, leaned in, and whispered, “I am sure that Jesus would be delighted that these two little kids are giggling together in His church.” Oh boy, cue the tears! It was like Jesus Himself came down and affirmed me in that moment. I guess He did through her. It was a beautiful moment of the church being the church. And it’s one of the many, many reasons I’m thankful for the local body we are part of and The Church as a whole.
Every week we sit in a room with people from at least 15 countries, probably more. Every person with a different background and culture. Most of us from different church backgrounds. It’s our own tiny slice of The Church and I love it. I love getting to see how vast and diverse the body of Christ is just by sitting in that room each week. I know I take for granted that we get this experience. And I’ve become so comfortable knowing people all over the world that I forget that not every follower of Christ has the same gift of being so connected to the worldwide church.
I am so, so thankful for The Church this year. I am so thankful that God saw fit to bring us into His family and then establish that we should be in community to learn, grow, and serve together. The Church is where we go for community first. It’s where we find people who will love us and care for us and who we can love and care for. It’s where we find people who not only care about the spiritual lives of people, but also their physical, mental, and emotional lives, too.
I love The Church. I love that God gave us each other and God gave every one of His children gifts, talents, and abilities, all to use to work together for Him. I love that we’re all different and have different life experiences and that no matter what continent I want to go to, I could eventually find a brother or sister, another person who knows and is known by The Loving Shepherd.
I love how our support teams are made up of people from The Church. We are so thankful for people who are called to give and pray for those who are sent. He brought five different local churches to support us in one way or another. We have a financial support team with about 80 names on it. And a prayer team with almost as many. We have people who encourage us and are listening ears. All these people, so many of them, who are part of His body and make a way for us. And we see God do it over and over again for so many other people we know. God calls people to do different things. We were called to go. Some are called to send.
The body of Christ is living, breathing, moving, and growing. We each see such a small sliver of His body that it’s hard to grasp how vast and wide it is, but I love to try. I imagine what life is like for friends we know living in other places-either other workers like us or local believers we have connections to. For some, following Christ is extremely challenging and they give up much to continue. For some, it’s a time of harvest and great joy. For some, it’s about trusting God when they are the only one or one of very few in their area. For some, it’s trusting God when the soil is very hard and planting seeds seems like it’s going to be fruitless. It won’t be. God’s word does not return void. And it’s why the body matters-to keep us connected and to make a way to keep doing as God calls.
And when this life is over, as members of the body of Christ, we have assurance that we will spend eternity in heaven. Kingdoms and empires rise and fall. Countires combine and split. So many things on earth are created and destoryed. Nothing on this earth will last forever with the sole exception of God’s people. Being part of the church means we are part of something eternal, something that will last beyond anything else we will encounter in this world. I’m thankful to be part of something enduring and the peace that comes knowing I will spend eternity with my heavenly Father.