A few days ago, a picture popped up in my mom group on Facebook, urging me to identify with one of the moms described. There was the sporty mom who always bakes for the soccer team, the mom who curses around her kids, the mom who yells at her kids, the mom who never cooks, the crunchy mom – the list goes painfully on.
And this type of thing is aimed not just at moms, but at all women of all life stages. “Find your tribe of women that like to drink red wine or read the same romance novels or take the same fitness class.”
Everywhere we turn in 2020, someone is telling us to find our “tribe”. Whether it be on a mug at Target, some artwork at Walmart, or just scrolling our Instagram feed, the world is constantly pushing us to find “our people”.
We’re being told that we can only be friends with people with whom we share this one shallow aspect of our lives. Extra points if it’s a vice and we all encourage each other in it – because the mantra of today is to affirm everyone in their choices.
But we don’t need a “tribe”. We need a family. A specific family, in fact – the family of God.
The Bible banishes the idea that we have to have kids the same age or work the same kind of job or be in the same life stage to meaningfully connect with people. We are bonded together by our mutual salvation, just as Ephesians 2:18-19 says:
“For through [Jesus] we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” (ESV)
Perhaps the most famous exhortation for Christian community is Titus 2. It shows us that diversity of ages and life stages is something to be valued! Verses 3-6 tell us:
“…older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.” (ESV)
This doesn’t mean that it isn’t difficult to connect with others, but these verses are not a suggestion, but a command. In the Google era, it’s easy to just search, “How do I know if I should change jobs?” or “Tips for potty training”, but God has designed the church to be a resource and blessing for us. Let’s avail ourselves of it!
Our church family is there not to affirm us in our failings, but to point us to the better way:
“And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day draw near.” (Hebrews 10:24-25, ESV)
This verse is typically interpreted to refer to Sunday service attendance, but I think we could expand the “meeting together” to include more frequent contact with each other.
It’s difficult to build relationships with someone in three-minute interactions after the service once a week. If I need to encourage someone, or seek encouragement out, a deeper relationship is required.
So, go to the midweek Bible study, volunteer on the committee, ask someone to meet you for coffee, have their family over for dinner. This will enable us to be in a position where we can “exhort one another every day, as long as it is called ‘today’, that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:13, ESV).
United by the Gospel
The terminology of “tribes” only serves to divide people. But God’s kingdom includes every tribe, tongue, and nation.
The gospel unites us – so let’s participate in our family. Let’s join in with our brothers and sisters in the Lord.
Encourage them. Invest time with them. Feast with them. And grow together in Christ!