Countless Christmas songs are written about it. Countless videos are posted about it. But not everyone has a home to go to for the holidays. It’s not a good or bad thing. Sometimes, it just is what is.
That’s where I fit in. My father passed away when I was nine, and I have an estranged relationship with my mother. All of my mother’s side of the family is spread out across the country, and I’ve never been super close to my father’s side of the family. I know many others find themselves in the same boat or in even worse situations.
So the holidays can be sad times, but all hope is not lost. Where earthly family fails, God never will. He comes and fills in all the gaps. And He does so by using spiritual family. This is one of my favorite parts of God’s design for community.
“God provides homes for those who are deserted…” Psalm 68:6 (HCSB)
In numerous other translations this verse says, “God sets the lonely in families.” He intentionally plucks us out of loneliness and places us within community.
That, right there, is everything. This part of verse six flat-out tells us God’s intent for community. We are all born into a natural family, but unfortunately, not all of those natural families are healthy. I myself was born into every kind of hard circumstance you can imagine. I was surrounded by neglect, drug and alcohol addiction, promiscuity and all manner of abuse. To say that the majority of my family was toxic would be an understatement.
When I went away to college, the Lord was so kind and gracious to me. He saved me and set me in spiritual family, many of whom I am still in contact with today. He surrounded me with spiritual mothers, fathers and siblings.
God wants everyone to experience this aspect of community, but especially us…the lonely. I don’t find myself lonely all of the time, but there are times where I am reminded of what I don’t have. Those are the times where I lean into Jesus’s presence, speak my need, confess my hurt and wait for Him to answer my prayer.
And answer it He does! The Holy Spirit comes in and does what only He can do. And He does it so beautifully. He does it in the sweetest of ways. Often it looks like the early church did in the book of Acts. I’m not sure where we stopped responding to the needs of others like they did, but I think that now seems like as good a time as any to return to the basics of community. The holidays most definitely call for a radical love and a radical invitation to invite others into God’s family.
And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved. Acts 2:42-47
These are some of my favorite verses penned in the whole of the Scriptures. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that this picture of the early church pleased the Father’s heart. They met together, all of them…married, single, widowed, young, old, farmers, tradesmen, seamstresses, orphaned, rich, poor. They ALL met together. They met together daily. They ate together. They worshiped together. They sacrificed greatly so that no one was in need.
The key word in these verses is TOGETHER. They were and we are literally all in this together. That is the heartbeat of God, that we be one. Those who are blessed with natural family should be aware of those that don’t, especially around the holidays. The holidays can be some of the hardest days of the year for some due to loss or the lack of family or hopelessness. I’ve been there many times.
The biggest and easiest need to meet during this season is the need to belong. Many may be alone, but they don’t have to be lonely. A smile, a hug, a gift, an invite to Christmas dinner can be the difference-maker in someone’s life.
The early church produced much fruit from the way they did life together. They enjoyed favor from the people around them and the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. Our tangible outpouring of love could be the doorway to salvation or just the encouragement needed to make it through another day. We can give someone a home for the holidays. We can actually be someone’s home for the holidays.
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:35
What better way to live out God’s love and our love for those made in the Imago Dei than to open our arms with hearts of welcome? Have you noticed people that God has placed in your influence that need to feel welcomed by spiritual family? How will you meet their need?