I sat in a small room with a group of pastors last week. We’d driven and flown from all over North America to study Colossians and Philemon, and to talk about how to preach it.
We came from 3 provinces and 17 states. We came from blue states, red states, big cities, and small towns.
It hit me again: I have brothers and sisters everywhere. I went to a study week but a family reunion broke out instead.
A few years ago, I ate at a restaurant in Madison, Wisconsin. I looked around and saw some friends bowing together in prayer and giving thanks. Family. They didn’t know me, but we’re related.
As I young teen, I visited a Baptist church in Margate, England with my younger sister. We were there to see my father, an unbeliever. Besides him, I didn’t know anyone in the entire country. I felt alone, isolated, vulnerable.
As I looked around in church, I felt less alone. I knew these people would help me because they’re my family. They didn’t know me, but that didn’t matter. I could call on them if needed and they would help me.
It keeps happening. I lined up at the airport last week. The lines were long. You could feel humanity drain from the room. I finally reached the customs agent. “Purpose of your visit?” He asked. “A conference.” “What’s the conference about?” “It’s for pastors. We’re studying Colossians. Exciting,” I replied. He looked at me and said, “I agree. If only people knew.”
Humanity restored. I met a brother. He handed my passport back but knew I’d just connected with part of the extended family.
It’s like those stories of people who take a DNA test and discover they have relatives. Sometimes the stories talk about these newly discovered relatives getting together and finding out how much they have in common.
It feels like that when I go to a new place and find Christians there. We’ve always been family; we just didn’t know each other yet. But when we do, we have lots to catch up about.
The world is a big place, but God has his people everywhere. You couldn’t get away even if you wanted to. You don’t speak the same language as all of them, but you have so much in common. You’re related.
Go to almost any town and look around and you’ll find them. I’ve found them here in Toronto, but also all over Canada and the States, in Israel, England, Lebanon, and more. When we get together, we look at each other and know that we know each other even though we just met.
How like God to make the gospel so spreadable. How like God to strategically place his people everywhere. How like God to give us that sense of instant connection when we are with family, a connection that transcends cultural, language, and other differences.
Brothers and sisters everywhere. It’s glorious. Praise God that he’s given us so much family. Praise God that the family is growing. Praise God that we’re never really alone.