Funny thing ‘family‘ – I was just musing on this after a lovely day with the people of the Valley who love and care for Rose and I and yet we do not know so much about each other as we would like to know.
I was musing on the fact that most often our own ‘blood families’ are fractured in so many ways. Years of ‘knowing’ each other bring distance which intrudes on our idea of what family should be compared to our own reality. How often do we say of our own family ‘this is not how it should be!’ and walk off in confusion and anger never to turn back. Over the years the small rift develops into a chasm and often becomes too wide to bridge – on our own at least!! It seems like even shared bloodline is not strong enough to draw us back together!
Then I consider my experience of the Christian family and my experience of how it functions. Well it certainly does not function in the perfection that it aspires to although there are differences which do change the outcomes.
Over the years of following Jesus I have been hurt – and have hurt others – in my Christian family. Those whom I do call brothers and sisters. I would love to be able to say here that in the Christian family there are no rifts which last a lifetime – but I cannot as it is obvious from just looking at the history of the Christian movement that this is not so.
People have divided over significant theological issues and – unfortunately – over insignificant non- theological issues (like where should we put the clock and what colour should the carpet be etc………???
How does it differ then? Well in my natural family I am related by a bloodline or by marital relationship while in my church family (or Christian family) it would seem that I am related solely by the connection to or membership of a particular local congregation or denomination or movement. It looks on the outside like someone who belongs to a social club, or has a common interest (stamp collecting or cycling or whatever). If that was the primary connection then the divisions and fractures which happen would probably result in the same situation as in our natural families – we could be very polite and avoid each other so as not to disturb the equilibrium or we could be very nasty and continue the argument in the process poisoning our fellow family members.
The primary connection in the Christian family is not that we all belong to the same club – although we do in the sense that we all try to follow Christ – but it is this – we are all forgiven people because of the grace of God displayed by the Son of God – Jesus Christ – on the cross when he died for all.
It makes a difference. In my natural family I can state (whether true or not) that I am better, more deserving, more acceptable, more (place your own adjective).. than the others in my family. In the Family of God there is only One who is acceptable, worthy, deserving and that is not me but Him – Jesus. This makes rifts, arguments etc between us something which the Elder brother – Jesus – tells us we must heal. We are constrained (as the Apostle Paul said) to love others. Why? Because none of us is worthy to have a place at the table of the banquet in eternity which is hosted by God himself. On our own merits we have nothing to offer and it is not possible for me to say to a brother or sister -‘I am more worthy, better whatever than you’ – it is just not possible because it is not true. And so the bloodline that holds us together is His bloodline which He has gracefully allowed us to be adopted into.
I am part of a family that has a lineage which returns to the Creator of the Universe and is kept in an eternal register of adoptions and through this adopted family I have a family which embraces me not because I am worthy, or better or whatever, but because I am a brother of the Elder brother and it is His blood line that connects us all.