Just yesterday a friend and I were discussing her need for a pair of shoes for an event she has this weekend and her shopping excursion around town was a bust. As I listened, which is easy for me to do especially on the subject of shoes! She told me all the places she’d looked and what she was hoping to find, but didn’t. I reminded her of a local shop in a cute little shopping center in town. This little center of stores are small business owners, not department stores or large chains. This particular shoe store has everything from what you would find at a department store to the very high end brands like Cole Hahn and Stewart Weizmann (Stuart, if I spelled your name wrong I apologize but your shoes are amazing). Anyway, she had forgotten about this store and decided to go there. In fact, she said that she loved supporting small and local business owners anyway. I agreed, supporting businesses in your city is like loving on your family. We are loyal and support one another.

I share my friends desire to support local business when possible. I treasure the American spirit and ability to build and dream and pursue on varied scales of desire. I love the local shop owners, and if you get in there to browse you will get to know them, like family. That’s how I feel anyway.

I feel the same way about the Church. Not just my church, but THE Church, if you are in it, you are my family. I may not know everyone in my family (have cousins like that, too), I may not have much in common with some of my family (have this also), but I am loyal just the same.

I have always been an extremely loyal person, extremely. I think it’s just how my personality is wired, but it is also how my parents raised me. So grateful for that. My husband is the same way. We’ve had the same cell phone carrier since we first got cell phones. I think the name of the company has changed three times, but they are still our provider and we’ve been happy with their service, so I recommend them when I can. This is a big, now major carrier, but when I can I share my satisfaction even though the corporate head quarters will never know of my little recommendation, but I do it the same because I know.

I have a friend who does beautiful artistry and is a tattoo artist by trade. I haven’t a single tattoo on my being and don’t plan to get one either, but I refer people to her for a tattoo all the time because she is good at it, but also because she is my sister in the Lord and in my heart…my family. I want to support her business and bless her livelihood.

A month or more ago I had a friend in need of some plumbing and they weren’t all that happy with who’ve they had in the past. I immediately recommended a long time family friend for the job. These aren’t friends I see all the time or vacation with or anything, but again, my family in the Lord is the same as blood family to me.

You get the idea, I am a strong believer in loyalty. As we are loyal to business we frequent, the people who do our hair or the doctor who tends to our children…we should be ever more so for the family we will be spending all of eternity with, the Church. I grew up in the church, but that is not why I am loyal. In fact, I would say that the “church” (collectively speaking, not one entity) establishments I am not loyal to…it’s the people who have my endearment and loyalty.

I envision a large red thread, which represents the saving grace and redemptive blood of Jesus Christ. This thread ties us each to each other and connects us as one, though we are many. The greater our unity the tighter the stitch of the thread, pulling us ever closer. The closer we are as a Body, we become truly one in body, mind, spirit. God is so unique in how he wants us to be unified like a well refined team, yet we are able to maintain all of our own unique qualities, attributes, personality. I adore this concept beyond belief. It is how God would define tolerance I believe. We are free to be who we want to be and go and do our own way, but we are still under the banner of His amazing grace and illuminated by the Light of His Glory and His Temple.

As a kid we would sing hymns in church. I prefer the more contemporary music I must admit, but as an adult I recognize the value that was instilled into me by singing those songs. One hymn had lyrics that read: “we are one in the spirit, we are one in the Lord, may our hearts and our minds flow in one accord. They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love, they will know we are Christians by our love.”

“We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not to please ourselves.  Each of us should please our neighbors for their good, to build them up. For even Christ did not please himself but, as it is written: “The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.” For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through the endurance taught in the Scriptures and the encouragement they provide we might have hope.

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.” Romans 15:1-7

Our Lord has woven together such a rich tapestry of adopted children, grafted into his family, created in his image.

I have a deep love for people anyway, but if you are my brother or sister in Christ, I look upon you as my family. Not my church family, my blood relative. If we can understand this collectively, we can be so effective to love others into the kingdom, just by our love for each other.

I love you!