Family, not performance – extract from ‘Gospel Community’ Foundation module


The following is an extract from our Foundation Course module ‘Gospel Community’.

Paul tells the Romans to be “devoted to one another in brotherly love.” The love in our gospel communities should be ‘brotherly’; in other words, like the love we should have for our family.

A key element of family love is (or should be) that it is a given. You don’t have to be anything to be part of your family, other than the child of your parents. You don’t have to maintain a certain level of performance to stay in the family. You don’t have to put on a show. You don’t have to get on all the time. You don’t have to be physically attractive, or intellectually smart. You just are family. You are not on a stage or in an audition room trying to be good enough. We are at home with the people who know us and love us. Or at least we all instinctively have the germ of an idea that that’s how it should be. And we all sense that family has gone horribly wrong where you do have to perform, where you do run the risk of being disowned or shunned by parents or brothers or sisters. The idea of not being good enough for our parents is, for many of us, a haunting and horrible one.

In a gospel community we should not have to fear that. It should be a place where we enjoy and give that family kind of love to one another. It is a love that doesn’t need one another to perform, or be on our best behaviour. Gospel community can be a place where people are allowed to be themselves. If that means our shortcomings and sin are on show, then so be it. Remember we are committed to good love, which wants to stick to good and hate evil. So there should be a challenge. And there will be messiness, as there is in real families. But what we want to avoid is pretence and hypocrisy. Don’t let your gospel community be a place where you pretend to be good. You are not performing, you are part of the family, with brothers and sisters who love, care and look out for you.

Tom Olyott