My freshmen year of college I went to a non- traditional university. I like to describe it as my “hippie school.” My experience was unique in a lot of ways because this school created a a safe haven where misfits could finally belong. My first few months there I found it hard to make friends. In retrospect I realize, this was because I judged a lot of people for being different from what society told me they should be. However, as time went on, I really had to learn how to separate the prejudices I had, from the individual in front of me. Just because someone dresses a certain way or looks a certain way does not define who they are. I was forced to look beyond what my naked eyes told me and to look at the heart. This started my journey of pursuing one person's heart versus lumping people together with my preconceived misconceptions. Little did I know that God was doing a deep work in my own heart. He was using the most unlikely people to teach me something about the family of God.
In Psalm 68, God promises to“place the lonely in families” not just so that we can belong, but so that we can discover God together. When God made us, He made us unique in His image. Meaning, we all have a piece of God to offer to another person and each person's piece of God is different. If I choose to judge a person, I forfeit my right to encounter God in that unique way and therefore miss out on an opportunity to discover more of his nature.
So how do I cultivate family on a weekly basis? Jesus taught us the perfect way to do this right before He was lead to the cross. Luke 22 says “He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to them(v.19). Jesus gave us a simple strategy to build family and His kingdom on the earth. Give thanks, break bread, and remember Him. When we gather around a table of food, and take time to get to know others, we get to experience pieces of Jesus that we would have never been able to know from a sermon or a worship service. Don’t get me wrong those things are important, but we need to increase our expectation for Jesus to show up around our tables.
Creating family in the midst of a revival culture has always been an idea I loved so much. Recently I was even challenged to start doing this in my own life. Some friends and I started to invite people from what others would consider a “rough neighborhood” into our home about a year and half ago. The journey that God started me on back in my freshman year of college still to this day continues to play out in a very real way. Now I no longer write people off based on the outward stereotypes that get associated with them. Instead, my solution has been to gather every Sunday night for a meal and to open God’s word with people from very different walks of life. This is how we build family. I have been blown away at the power behind dinner in our home. God shows up in a mighty way. It is not because we have some magic touch, because believe me we don't. It truly is only because of the moment when we committed to building family, we came with the expectation that it would be messy and imperfect. Sure, we have our good and bad days, but Jesus is faithful and family requires commitment. We can't give up on each other even when it gets hard. So we have chosen to look beyond the naked eye and learn together. Building family not only creates a space to belong, but also a place to learn more about God.