There is not one family that is perfect, without its share of hardships. Every family comes with its own set of principles that make them unique and set apart from another family.
There are stories of successes, failures, generational patterns of dysfunction, health concerns, discipline, cultural customs, expectations of loyalty, faith, or lack thereof, work ethic, and so much more. Yet there are many commonalities that allow us to feel like we are “right at home” when we are in each other’s company…that is if we have given ourselves permission to connect at all. If we only ever confine ourselves to our families of origin, we are missing out on the rich blessing of experiencing “Kingdom Family”. The family where a loving Father leads us. Where unrighteousness is exposed, and we are constantly seeking to be better. Where the family stands for mercy and against injustice. Where family holds us accountable for loving God, ourselves, and our neighbor.
Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Matthew 22: 37-40.
We often search for what’s different between us more than we seek what we have in common. We ponder thoughts and questions like, “How is she more successful or more educated than I am?” “Is her home bigger than mine?” “Is she happier in her marriage?” “Does she have any “real” problems, she is always so happy!” “She is more confident than I am, I’m not confident.” “Her children are so ambitious and well mannered. I am struggling with my child(ren)”, etc. BUT if we turned our thoughts into curiosity, asked someone a question instead of making assumptions, and turned our hearts towards imitating Christ, we would accept that we all have sinned, we sin daily, will sin in the future, and our Savior covered it all to bring us together so that we could build His Kingdom!
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.” John 1:12
Talk about “Family”! How amazing it is to be a part of a family that you know has God’s promises over it. It is to be noted that we are not without need for improvement or correction but rest assured that the Lord disciplines who He loves. So, we can expect that our Church family has all the ranges between joy and pain, healthy connection and dysfunction, as any other family; but in the Kingdom Family there is hope after pain, our joy can’t be taken away by our circumstances, loyalty to the Lord rather than our flesh is expected and no one is exempt from upholding the Lord’s commandments regardless of race, gender, culture or class. As Christians we have a challenging but rewarding responsibility to do what we are supposed to even when others are not.
Our differences have divided us for far too long. I often hear the concern that the idea of bringing people together from diverse backgrounds is a “kumbaya” notion (i.e., ignoring our differences) which is unrealistic and impractical. However, when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, we are committed to upholding His values above our own. Our similarities are bridges of opportunity to build the Kingdom of God and our differences allow us to design things that meet the need(s) of diverse people. Differences make room for us to do what the Lord has called us to do in spaces where our gifts and love are needed, and we get to accept we are not needed in every space.
Perhaps, if we begin (or continue) shifting our focus more on our assignment(s) and purpose(s) we could find joy, pleasure, and inspiration in witnessing others obey Him, we can listen better, learn more and celebrate one another as Family does. Our past adds power to our purpose! As Oprah would say, we can turn our Post Traumatic Stress into “Post Traumatic Wisdom” and help others grow and heal. We can invite them to be a part of our Royal Family and love them as they walk toward an intimate relationship with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Family is what family does! We can’t be left behind if we choose to follow. Consider over the next several weeks (and often) how are you engaging with your Brothers & Sisters in Christ and others who don’t know Him? May we all be an example of Christ and ensure that the Kingdom Family is set apart from the world. God bless you!