I grew up in a country and culture where the definition of family is extremely broad. Anyone even remotely related or close to one member of the biological family was family. I realize this concept can, to the uninitiated, seem rather unusual, but it is really quite neat! When you grow up in this environment there is an abiding sense of belonging to a great community. You have homes in which to rest everywhere you travel. You know that you are welcome, anytime of the day, in any state of dress or neatness (translate this as messiness). You know you belong.
It can be difficult o comprehend how deep this custom is to those who are not familiar. Even as Jesus was in death’s reach his worry was for his family. In case there was any doubt, “while the soldiers were looking after themselves, Jesus' mother, his aunt, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene stood at the foot of the cross. Jesus saw his mother and the disciple he loved standing near her. He said to his mother, ‘Woman, here is your son.’ Then to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother.’ From that moment the disciple accepted her as his own mother.” (John 19.24-27) A tradition that was old, even then.
You may not realize it, yet you are a member of at least three families – and they are related to each other. You are a member of the immediate family you can recall from your childhood. You are also a member of my family, with all the headaches and joys that this brings. Additionally we are both members of Divinity’s family. Divinity has chosen us, called us children of God, and made provision for every weakness, failure, and poor choice we might have or make.
Life can be extremely hard. Life can be very painful. Life can be stressful. The combination is ultimately lethal for one and all. In the midst of this there is an antidote – one filled with peace, hope, and opportunity. Everything centers on the family we belong to – God’s.
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