How long has it been since you became a Jesus-trusting-fully-surrendered-grace-accepting-Spirit-filled-washed-in-the-blood-believer? Were you young or old? Was it years ago or last week? Who was there to help you navigate the waters of new faith?
Yesterday, I read my daughter’s new blog post explaining the bonding process that must begin in just a few weeks as they wrap their arms around our new grandson from China. Considering the size of the Roberts-Jackson clan, it was wise of her to lay out the boundaries for all of us – especially this squeeze-‘em-and-hug-‘em Mema! As I read her description of the bonding process I couldn’t help but think this is exactly the role the church should play in the life of a new believer (or maybe even one who has just found his way again). Imagine giving up old friends, old habits, and an old way of life without the support of new friends who take time to initiate the bonding process. Listen to what Jennifer has to say about all that our little 2 ½ year old Benjamin must go through before he feels secure in their love.
“His whole world is about to be rocked! He will be sent with people he doesn’t know, who smell, look and sound different from anyone else that he has ever seen. He will be eating new foods, traveling outside his orphanage for what will probably be the very first time in his two and a half years, seeing tons of new sights, living in a hotel room for the first time (which he may think is our house), and even riding on an airplane half way across the world. That is a lot for a little guy to take in and that’s just the changes that he’ll experience in China. Once we get home there will be two new brothers and a new sister for him to get used to, another new place, another new bed, more new smells, more new foods. A lot of new! We expect him to experience grief over the loss of his nannies, friends, and familiar routine that he had in the orphanage. We expect him to be overwhelmed. But, we also know that God is a God of redemption and healing and that prayer can change much! We will also try to do everything in our power to make this transition easier for him.”
When a new Christian with no church background becomes part of a church family it’s like entering a new country – his whole world is rocked. There are words he doesn’t understand, traditions he’s not aware of, expectations that overwhelm him, and a lifestyle he may never have witnessed firsthand. There must be someone willing to step forward, take him by the hand, and say, “Let’s walk together.” Even when a brother or sister who’s lived far away from God returns, someone must step forward to say, “I’m with you. Let’s grow closer to God together.” That’s why God invented churches. He knew we would need each other.
Does your church family foster that kind of care and concern? If not, what are you going to do to create a climate change? Take a look around Sunday morning and find someone new to talk to. Make a phone call. Invite someone to lunch or dinner. Participate in that new small group or Bible study. Don’t think I’m preaching to you – this is aimed straight at my heart. The Spirit’s voice has gotten steadily louder in my ear. He knows the best way to change me is to have me write about it. So, I guess I should get busy! How about you? Are you ready to adopt a new friend?
If you’d like to read the rest of Jennifer’s blog go to www.redthreadofhope.blogspot.com. (Yes, I’m a proud mama!)
“For those who are led by the spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:14-16, NIV