Yesterday was an emotional day for us at West Main. Although next Sunday is our last Sunday, yesterday the sisters hosted a farewell party for us. With next weekend being the Memorial Day holiday, this worked well for all of us.
It was an afternoon filled with laughter and some tears. Hugs and handshakes. Funny stories. Parting gifts. Lovely cards. Delicious desserts. And most of all the special feeling of kinship that was in the air.
Kinship is not a word often used today. By definition, it means “the state or fact of being kin.” It has to do with the nature and qualities of a family relationship. It speaks to an affinity we feel and a connection we share.
I can remember as a boy the older people talking about kinship. Someone would say, “I know your kinfolks.” Or ask, “Are you all kin?”
The word “kin” comes from a common Teutonic word. Kin has to do with family—those who are related and share a common bloodline, a common ancestor. Kinship carries the idea of a relationship that is shared. I have aunts and uncles and cousins in which there is a common bond. A relationship. An affinity.
However, it is possible to feel a kinship to people who are not blood relatives. People we’ve only known for a couple years. Like our West Main church family. “How is that possible,” an outsider may wonder.’
It is because we share a spiritual kinship in Christ. We are related by the blood of Jesus. We’ve all been redeemed by His blood. Cleansed from sin. And born again into His family. (Eph 1:7; Ax. 20:28; Col. 1:14; Rev. 1:5). That makes us brothers and sisters.
The kinship of first century Christians is obvious in Scripture. In Acts 2:42-47 we see them eating together from house to house, sharing together and helping each other in time of need. It is obvious they embraced their new relationship in the Lord and really cared for each other. Kinship.
Interestingly the word “kin” is akin to ““ kind.” They share a common derivation. We expect our kin folks to be kind to us. The Bible teaches that “love is kind” (1 Cor 13:4). As parents, we teach our children to be nice to each other. If they’re not, we say, “Is that any way to treat your little sister? Be kind!” Why? Because of the kinship that exists.
I know sometimes our family can be unkind. It can even occur in a church family. But that’s not the natural expectation of the way kin folks treat one another. The Bible admonishes “And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” (Eph. 4:32). Our association is not based on rules and regulations, but a relationship. Kinship. This bond naturally issues itself in kindness.
In fact, our word of the month at West Main for May is “kindness.” We have been the recipients of heartfelt kindness the past two years. And yesterday we felt the kindness of kinship from our spiritual family in a special and unique way.
This is God’s plan for His people. In Galatians 6:10 we are called “the family of believers.” In I Timothy 3:15 Paul refers to the church as “the family of God.” And in Ephesians 2:19 Paul affirms that “you are members of God’s very own family.” Kinship.
Kinship, however, does not occur accidentally. There must be an intentional effort to build a bond between believers. It requires work. And demands a focused attention to one another’s needs. This happens when we weekly and even daily demonstrate our affinity and affection through the various opportunities to bestow brotherly kindness.
We’re sure going to miss our West Main Family. But we know there will always be an open door and place to stay because of the kinship we share.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman