I saw it happen in my family recently, and a friend commented the same here: Nowadays extended family gets together mainly at funerals. Rarely do members of an extended family come together. We’re spread out so far, for one thing. And maybe the Internet connects us in other ways that satisfy the need that some may feel to stay in touch.
One of the main activities of God’s family is its meetings and eating together at the Lord’s table.
It is true of God’s family that “there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” Pro 18.24b NET. As God’s people we are closer than most natural families. Because we are together more. Because we follow a truer love than most. Because our family in Christ will outlast the earthly ties of natural families.
Ideally — and it is the will of God that it be so — natural families are also united in Christ. This is not only a double blessing, but a blessing magnified times beyond measure. But often the will of God is not respected by some.
Organizations and groups emphasize the importance of meetings. This is doubly true for the church. The very word church means meeting. A video is not a meeting. Social media is not a meeting. Supposed communing with God in a fishing boat or a sports stadium is not a meeting of God’s family.
A meeting of God’s family is face to face. Physical. The movement of bodies to occupy together a space, be it in an auditorium, amphitheater, or living room. It seems ironic that spiritual edification requires physical assembly, but it does.
The word church is used in the metaphorical sense of a global assembly around the Lord Jesus. But that sense only has meaning because local communities of saints meet together regularly to worship their God and Savior, edify one another, and prepare themselves for the daily mission of the Good News.
Whoever misses those meetings misses the blessing of God, the strength of the Spirit, and the presence of the Word. It is the practice of this righteousness that keeps one in the spiritual family. Participation is a condition to continue occupying a place in the family. Churches that keep so-called membership rolls that don’t reflect this truth do a disservice to everyone and dishonor God.
So natural families that get together only at funeral are still families because they have the physical ties. But those who miss the meetings of God’s family declare themselves already dead and buried.