“For the church is not a human society of people united by their natural affinities, but the Body of Christ, in which all members, however different, (and He rejoices in their differences and by no means wishes to iron them out) must share the common life, complementing and helping one another precisely by their differences.” – C.S Lewis
An alien crash lands on earth (in Hawaii of all places), confused by humans to be a stray dog who got run over, and then adopted into a family of two sisters. Lilo and Stitch, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated Disney movies.
Two sisters have lost their parents in a car accident. Lilo is on the verge of being taken by Child Services unless her sister can prove she is providing a stable home. After wishing for a friend, Lilo adopts Stitch (an alien). The movie then moves on to see how Stitch fits into this family.
However, throughout the film one word is repeated over and over, “Ohana.” Ohana means, “Family. Family means nobody gets left behind, or forgotten.”
As we examine our Christian life and our being in the church, there is are lessons we can learn from Ohana.
Many of us look at our Christian walk with God and see where God has worked, and where we have fallen in sin. We see ups and downs. We struggle with knowing God in his Word; our goal would be more consistency. We struggle with resisting temptation; our goal is to listen and obey the Spirit even when it does not seem to make sense.
When the church service begins, we look around and see others testifying to God’s triumphant work in their lives. Our heads fill with how we are missing that, and we smile, but inside we feel like we want to run away. Our spiritual battles seem like a first-person shooter game: it is all of our enemies vs. us. Some how others around us in our churches are advanced leveled-up players; while we feel like we are on level 20, but only being a level 1 character. The end result is never pretty.
The “first-person shooter game” is a lie when it comes to our spiritual battles. Ephesians 6:10-18 describe our spiritual warfare. Paul outlines how we are to succeed in battle. Yet, why do many of us end of as casualties of our battles? We take up the shield of faith, we surround ourselves with truth, we pray… We do it alone.
At first glance at the passage, you see all these commands and references to “you.” It is for you, but it is also not just for you. Looking at the Greek text will help us see something. All commands are in the plural form. When you see “you,” it is in the plural like “y’all.” Therefore, spiritual warfare is not to be done alone. It is a group effort. It is the entire church who is involved. Spiritual warfare is not an individual’s mission and then come back to base. Wars are won by teams, and by groups of people.
Our spiritual warfare losses are because we are not battling together. The church is a family. “Ohana” first means family. It is a group of people brought together by God to do life together. The church does life together. When we forget that and go out on our own, there will always be disaster in our lives.
“Ohana” is another word we could use to describe the church – a family.
Nobody gets Left Behind
When Lilo is kidnapped by aliens, Stitch runs to her rescue. Lilo looks at Stitch and says, “You came back.” Stitch replies, “Nobody gets left behind.”
Have you ever experienced a moment where you felt forgotten or left behind? I am not talking about the “rapture scare” sometimes we have experienced as children. I am talking about a moment where you have sat alone on a couch, on your bed, and your thoughts overwhelm you. Your struggle has beaten you down again. Yet, you think, “When was the last time someone asked you about your life? When was the last time you felt like you could open up without being shamed?” You remember time after time attempting to connect with people to find that discipleship and accountability; only to be reject. So, you feel forgotten and left behind.
The church is to promote an environment of discipleship and accountability. Matthew 28:19 commands us to make disciples of all nations. This means the church is gathering around people to witness the disciple transformation. No one is ever going to achieve sinless perfect on earth, but we can cheer and cry throughout the process. But, do we?
1 Corinthians 12:12-26 declare Christians are all apart of the body of Christ. We are members of each other. Everyone has a purpose. We are to rejoice with each other, and cry with each other. Paul states in verses 24-26 we are to have the same concern for each other: nobody gets left behind.
I have been in a church where the pastor was told to choose a handful of individuals out of a group to disciple. I was not chosen, and I felt not valued in the group as a whole. I knew who was in the inner group doing Bible studies, and I knew my place. In my own mind, it started a journey of believing my spiritual growth did not matter because I was not apart of an accountability group or being mentored. If no one reached out to me, then I believed it was because no one saw any potential in me for God’s work or for me to succeed spiritually. And guess what… I am not the only who had or is still struggling with these thoughts. This is a silent normality.
A church should never be a place where accountability or mentoring is withheld from someone. No one is to be forgotten. Christ did not tell us to make disciples of those whom we see potential. We are to make disciples of all nations (and that means all people). We are to create an environment where everyone’s spiritual discipleship is valued.
Ohana means family… Family means no body gets left behind or forgotten.
Ohana Results in Fighting for Each Other
In the final scene of Lilo and Stitch, Stitch is arrested by the Intergalactic Federation. As Stitch is led away, Lilo remembers she adopted Stitch, and had a license for him. The piece of paper is whipped out and shown to the head alien. “Three days ago, I bought Stitch at the shelter. I paid two dollars for him. If you take him, you’re stealing.” Lilo fought for her Ohana.
Galatians 6:1-2 call us to fight for each other. We are to support one another. We should not allow sin to carry off one of our brothers and sisters. They are owned by Christ. If sin tries to take one, then sin is stealing. We fight to bring them back. The goal of bearing one another’s burden is to see restoration. The goal is not to find out dirt on each other or to kick out “the weeds.” In fact, kicking out the weeds is God’s job (Matthew 13:24-30). Instead, when a brother or sister is being taken by sin, we need to fight to see them restored. We should never just say, “I told you his/her conversion was false” or “I knew he would leave eventually.”
When we cultivate an environment of disciple transformation, we end up fighting for restoration. When we see our Christian lives as a solo act, we judge each other and will not get involved.
Ohana means family… Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten… Family fights for each other.
Who is Our Ohana?
Before you continue reading, please watch this clip.
“This is my family. I found it all own my own. It’s little and broken. But, still good. Yeah, still good.”
This is how Stitch describes his family. He came into a broken family while he himself was quite different. Yet, his family is good.
Our family (the family of God) has been ordained by God (Ephesians 2:16-19). Our “Ohana” is good, because it comes from God. He fought for us to be apart of his household. He brings people in from all walks of life. No one in the church is perfect and fits perfectly. We are all broken people who have been redeemed by Christ’s death and resurrection.
Look around your church. It is broken and made up of people of no significance (little). Yet, it is still good. It is good when we fulfill God’s calling of making disciples. It is good when we see lives transformed into the image of Christ; not transformed into a cultural expression. The power of the Gospel is that it transforms lives.
As a church we are not alone, everyone is valued and apart of the discipleship process, and we fight for each other.
Ohana means family… Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten. This is our Ohana – the church.