redeeming the potluck

I love my Midtown family. And I don’t mean that like I do when I say I love Atlanta Bread Company….what a silly language we speak. No, I love these people from the part of my soul that can’t formulate words, the part that can only communicate through hugs and a tear here or there. We had a family meeting tonight, a potluck dinner–remember those? Its been a while, and it turned out to be fantastic.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it until my voice is raspy and worn. One of the foremost reasons that I am deeply committed to the vision of Midtown is because we are legitimately a family. Biblical community is the air we strive to breathe, and that does not mean that we gather once a week to worship. In a world where nothing is whole and brokenness abounds, we are standing up and insisting that the family of God must be one, that every wandering orphan is welcome back into the love of a Father and a family. We take this seriously, and we will be a family, no matter how much we grow.

My favorite moments during our family times are when we are about to pray or worship together, and someone says, “Scripture says that you better not think about coming before God if you have sin or relational issues against a brother or sister. So if you do, go straighten that out right now, grab the person and go outside and get it out. Then we will go to Jesus unified as one.” One of the most amazing sounds I’ve ever heard is the awkward silence that follows those words, followed by a screeching chair…and another…and another. People grabbing friends to go outside and reconcile issues large or small, others getting on the phone with someone. Each swallowing gulp affirms that our family is much more important than my pride, and every honest conversation binds us tighter together. Because, if our world is going to see a correct picture of Jesus, we have to be one. Then it is, “If you are hurting right now, stand up so we can gather around you and pray for you.” I imagine there is nothing more encouraging than being surrounded by the hands and hugs of people asking the Healer to heal you, knowing full well that those same people will have your back tomorrow and next week and next year–that they would fight to the death for you. It is beyond words to describe what it means to have a safe place to deal with your junk, even the really ugly stuff. Knowing that you have a family that, instead of gossiping about you, will get in your mess with you and push you towards the healing of the Gospel.

It crushes me that so many Christians don’t have this. It kills me that so many potlucks are shared with shallow conversations above dying souls. Because this…this is church. This is family. This is unity. And this is the hope of the world, that the Gospel is proclaimed through a family that looks and acts like Jesus.

This is what a real potluck looks like. So grab a chicken leg and pull up a chair, there is plenty of room for you.

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