Someone has said each church is either (1) a bag of marbles or (2) a cluster of grapes. A marble church makes noise, bangs together, and then goes their separate ways until “the next appointed time.” On the other hand, a grape church bleeds all over each other. Come to think of it, a grape church leaks.  I want to be a part of a bleeding, leaking church. -Wilson Adams

As I read this statement, I immediately pondered whether the South Fayette church is a bag of marbles or a cluster of grapes.  I, too, want to be a part of a bleeding, leaking church.

From my perspective and experience, this church is a cluster of grapes.  I’m not suggesting we never have times of hardness and distance with one another.  But we do have a genuine love for the Lord that is clearly manifested in our love for one another (Matt. 25:40).  We allow ourselves to be vulnerable in that we have connected our lives together and often bleed all over ourselves.  The many tears, hugs, calls, cards, visits, involvement that we share are expressions of the special relationship we have as the family of God.  Brotherly love indeed continues here, and we love each other in deed and truth and not just in word or talk (Heb. 13:1; 1 John 3:18).  I’m thankful for that.

We aren’t perfect.  Yet we are committed to moving forward and growing to be even better than we have been.  Paul’s prayer for the Christians in Thessalonica is our prayer today for this church – “and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all…” (1 Thess. 3:12).

Standing firm in the truth is a good thing.  Paul directed the saints in Philippi to stand firm in the Lord.  Yet even as he makes this charge, he isn’t calling on them to be a bag of marbles.  He is urging them with his own love for them and their need to work with each other in love (Phil. 4:1-3).  To the Ephesians he commanded: “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you” (Eph. 4:32).

Let us not forget that classic illustration of the Lord about judging others in their faults (Matt. 7:1-5); noticing and dealing with the speck in a brother’s eye while not seeing the log that is in our own.  It is not difficult at all to see where others are lacking or failing, but not so easy to see our own errors.  “Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness.  Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted.  Bear one another’s burdens and so fulfill the law of Christ” (Gal. 6:1-2).

Being a part of a cluster is often messy.  However, what a blessing we have from the Lord that we are joined with and bear with one another to the glory of God.  Read Rom. 15:1-7 and reflect on who and what we are to one another and to God.