How we view people depends on our relationship with them. If we don’t know someone they become ‘that person with a problem’. Perhaps we don’t even know their name. They become identified by their situation and the extent to which they are an inconvenience to us. This can be how we experience people even in the Church. That is the noisy infant. This is the child with autism that doesn’t communicate with anyone. These are the youth that struggle to concentrate and sit still. This is the family that always turns up late. This is the man who doesn’t dress very smartly. This is the woman who cannot hear what I say to her. These are the elders who seem to be forgetting things.
But when we know and experience that we are a family in Christ then everything is transformed in the congregation. The love of God changes our relationships and unites us with one another in a bond that is unshakeable. If one of our children has a problem, or a brother or sister, or our mother or father, we do not think of them as ‘that person with a problem’. They are family, and their problem or difficulty is one we share and support them in.
This is how we want our congregations to be with every member. We want to be and become a true family in Christ. In the Church each one of us is made a brother and sister. If someone has a problem or is struggling with a difficulty or condition then we can say with truth, this is my brother or my sister who is bearing a burden. If it is our brother or sister who has a burden then we share it with them because we are a family.
When we are a family in Christ then every problem becomes our problem, and every person has a name and is known and loved as the person they are and not simply the condition or illness or problem they are trying to cope with. We cope with it together in the family of the Church and no one is left to struggle alone. Understanding that the Church is a family, the family of Christ in God by the Holy Spirit who unites us with each other and with God, transforms all of our relationships.