In 2016, with the Syrian refugee situation being at a crisis point for some time now, Canada had been given the opportunity to show its character to the world. In our response to accept 25,000 new comers; dispersed in various places across the country; it was a marvel to see so many in our community come together to assist in the settlement of those families being placed here in Saint John. In playing our role, Christa and I have had the privilege of being a part of what is called a welcome team.
The night we were to welcome the family we were to support, we received a call indicating that there was a second, unplanned family flying into the city with no welcome team to great them. Our team being larger than most; and with a need to be met; we quickly decided that we would be the welcome team for this second family; in effect doubling our responsibilities. Our days and nights were hectic to say the least with our responsibilities ranging from housing to babysitting; from healthcare to grocery shopping. Of all the things tasked to us as a part of a welcome team, it has been those things not on the to do list that have had made the lasting impact. A pleasant surprise that has involved and impacted us as a family; a concept I would like to elaborate on further.
In spending time with our families one thing has become abundantly clear, the families they have left behind have been replaced with our presence. It had only been a few days before we were reminded of this by the father of our first family. In sharing their experiences and pouring out their hearts to us, the expectation had been set in the saying of 3 words; words that once again demonstrate the power to break down walls; “WE LOVE YOU”.
In hearing those words, I reflect on the times where someone had said they loved me when they hardly knew me. I remember the hope I had in those words but knowing the most likely outcome would be the misunderstood emotions of youth, they always felt hallow. Many years later, having lived in the love of my savior Jesus; an instant and all-consuming love; I felt the truth and sincerity in those words from our new friends. As Christians we are family and we are loved!
Through these 2 Muslim families; a Samaritan story if there ever was one; God is broadcasting the truth of the status of those covered by the grace of our Father in Jesus. Our familial status has been established and in the finished work of Jesus, it is instant. Regarding family, the living word states the following in Ephesians 1 v 5 – 6 & 13 -14:
“In Love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will – to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”
Hebrews 11 v 10 – 11:
“In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered. Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.”
Romans 5 v 4 -5:
“For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others.”
In the scriptures above an understanding of who we are in relationship to Christ and each other is clearly illustrated. We are one and our understanding, respect and love for each other visibly illustrates the health of this spiritual body. Even more than that, our health is the visible illustration to a world with so many seeking and being called into a family that has eternal implications; the family of God. Far too often what has crippled the church most, a problem since the beginning and outlined in 1 Corinthians, has not been how we have treated those we seek to evangelize but those who are our own; our brothers and sisters in Christ; all visible for the unbeliever to see. The concept of family needs to be understood if we are to have the impact on a world so in need of truth. How can we claim to love God but harbor hate for our professed brother and sister as detailed in 1st John; I have a good friend named Micah to thank in helping me realize this.
It has never been about the need when looking at the body of Christ but the want that has resulted in growth the church. In Christ we realize that our Father wants a relationship with us and it is that revelation of sonship that has me most encouraged. God wants us; God wants you. We are valued and valuable. We need to be one, as God is one; we need to be together as much as a family needs to be unified. A point the apostle Paul makes clear when trying to strengthen and encourage a fractured church in Corinth. 1st Corinthians 12 v 24 – 27 states:
“But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
In closing, allow me to share with you changes that have taken place regarding my own familial status over the years. I pray that Christ’s victory in my life encourages you and the body of believers at large. Throughout the course of my life I have gone from being fatherless to fathered through the process of adoption. I have lived through a broken home; a broken family and have made mistakes seen in a product of those circumstances. I have been hurt by those who said they loved me and I have hurt those I said I loved most. At 19 years of age, my establishment as a son of God welcomed my presence into the eternal family of God through the finished work of my savior Jesus. I have gone from being a husband to a father; from thinking I had one biological brother, to finding my biological father and the 4 sisters and a brother I never knew.
As one can see, my familial status has changed many times and as my life runs its course and I expect that to continue. I belong to, and will for eternity, a family where my status is secure; something that honors God when lived out in the body. Whether in Central America or here in Saint John, I have seen the truth of this revelation change lives; leading to an ever-growing eternal family. If you are reading this and God is calling you, it’s all about the family.
God Bless – Sean Bosse