Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Faith: Walking with my little part of the Body of Christ has enlarged my family

My wife and I recently celebrated our 39th anniversary, and I’m thankful. Granted, both the original event and this most recent occurrence came almost on top of Easter Sunday (as have several of those occasions). As well it should, Resurrection Sunday pretty well eclipses any other anniversaries.

Someone who knows us well, and is even a little proficient with simple arithmetic, might be thinking, “OK, I don’t mean to be a busybody, but aren’t three of your four sons already older than 39? I don’t wish to meddle, but I’m a little surprised that it took the births of three-quarters of your kids for you to get around to tying the knot.”

Well, that gets into some other subjects, a few of which are rather knotty themselves, but I ask you, did I say that I was talking about our wedding anniversary? No, I did not.

I’m talking about the anniversary of our first Sunday at the little church we’ve been serving for, yes, 39 years. Seriously comparing our “beginning Sunday” here with Christ’s Resurrection Sunday would make about as much sense as confusing a candle on a cupcake with a nuclear reaction. But, nonetheless, I’ve always been glad that our first Sunday here was Easter Sunday. That is not even close to being a “nuclear” truth, but it does warm my heart.

Since I brought it up, I will mention that my wife and I are, matrimonially speaking, moving speedily toward anniversary No. 49. That additional math fact means that for 39 years of our almost 49 years of marriage, this little church has been a huge part of our lives.

As I was just beginning life in “professional” Christian ministry, an older friend, a wise mentor, told me, “Of course, you need to seriously consider and pray about where you will serve. Try to choose well, but don’t make the mistake of thinking that any choice will be without problems. You’re just deciding where you choose to have them.”

Since the only members available are of the human variety, even the best churches face some occasional glitches. Our “adversary,” as the Lord calls Satan, is more than able to use someone’s fit of pious “piffery,” pseudo-spirituality, or a temporary fixation on some molehill “issue” to get God’s people off-track.

Such wrecks are a matter for tears, not least because of the many people they’ve sent running away from local churches scarred and bleeding. But...

But it’s never fair to judge any group or endeavor by its worst examples, or wise to rob ourselves of beauty by focusing on ugliness. Pettiness, contention, and division seem so ugly in a church precisely because, when a church is honoring its Lord, what happens is so very beautiful. Strife in a church is as out of place as a cow patty flopped on top of a cheesecake (forgive me).

We often fall short, but when the members of a Christ-honoring church work together in unity to love their Lord, love each other, and love those around them, what happens is priceless and precious.

Jesus once promised that anyone who must sacrifice family relationships to follow him would receive a hundred times more “fathers and mothers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters” and “eternal life.”

I suspect the Lord is talking about the very large “family” of Christ, his church. And for most of us, loving Christ best means loving our families more than we do, not less.

I’ve not had to sacrifice family to follow Christ. But I have indeed found it sweetly true that even loving this little part of the Body of Christ and walking through life with them has greatly enlarged my family and given me blessing upon blessing.

Curtis Shelburne writes about faith for The Eastern New Mexico News. Contact him at:

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