Israel was made up of twelve tribes, each tribe a descendant of one of the twelve sons of Jacob. Israel is just one giant extended family. But in Joshua 20, we see three tribes of Israel choose to live apart from the rest of their family. The tribes of Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh decided to stay on the other side of the Jordan River because it was more comfortable to live there than to live with the rest of their family. After years of living apart from their family, those three tribes forfeited being a part of their families memories and heritage.
Fast forward a few thousand years, and we see the same thing happening in our church family today. We often choose comfort over being a part of a church family just like the Gadites, Reubenites, and the tribe of Manasseh. For some of us, we may be choosing the comfort of not letting people close enough to hold us accountable for our actions. If we never let people in, they can’t ever fully see the areas of our hearts that need growth. For others, you may feel uncomfortable sacrificing time that you think should be spent doing whatever you want. Maybe you attend a Sunday morning service, but you don’t want to sacrifice any time during the week to be a part of a community. And for a lot of you, being a part of the church family is uncomfortable because the church has hurt you time and time again. It’s a place full of sinful people, and they will, unfortunately, let you down because of it. But they are still your family as a part of the Kingdom of God!
Family can be messy and broken. The ones we love are the ones we know how to hurt the most. But family can also be such a beautiful picture of forgiveness and love without conditions. Your family knows you better than anyone else and chooses to love you anyway. What a beautiful example of being a part of God’s family. The church knows how to hurt you. It knows how to cut you deeper than anyone else can. But the church also knows how to love you, and it loves more fiercely than anyone else can through the Holy Spirit.
Growth can’t happen without being uncomfortable first. It forces you to examine your heart and doesn’t allow you to stay the same. Take the risk of being a part of God’s family. It may sting a little, but the reward FAR outweighs that risk.