1999-04-09 - Family
When we think of family we naturally think most often of those living in our own household or our extended family who may be miles away. Some of us have loving families; some of our family lives are filled with tension. Some of us think we have no family because we live alone. But for Christians, there is a family of millions. We have brothers and sisters in our local churches, in churches of other denominations in our country, and in other countries.
The Women's Bible Commentary* originates the beginning of this family with Jesus' admonition to John to look after Mary, Jesus' mother.
John 19:26-27 (NRSV) When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing beside her, he said to his mother, "Woman, here is your son." Then he said to the disciple, "Here is your mother." And from that hour the disciple took her into his own home.
We don't often mean to, but sometimes we seem to forget that not all Christians are just like us. For me, "just like us" is a White suburban mainline denominational member. On the same day I am worshipping rather quietly in my small, comfortably air-conditioned Presbyterian church, some of my Christian family in the Amazon set up benches under trees, and worship exuberantly while snakes frolic nearby. Side note: I consider air conditioning a blessing from God, especially for those of us with allergies!
One of my Christian friends prefers Southern Gospel music, while I drive to school, singing along with Point of Grace. But both types of music glorify the same God. I find the NNAS Bible to be truest to the original language in most of the instances where I know the original, but some of my sisters implicitly trust the New International Version. The Spirit can speak to us through many versions of His word and various styles of worship.
Some of our brothers and sisters cannot practice their faith as freely as we can. Some give up their freedom, their possessions, their positions and even their very lives, for their Lord. We are to stand in solidarity with them, since we are all part of His body.
Heb 13:3 (NNAS) Remember the prisoners, as though in prison with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you yourselves also are in the body.
We need to do whatever else each of us feels led to do for them, whether it's praying, writing letters to our Congressmen, or informing our churches or working as as volunteer with organizations that help them.
I hope you will pray with me that God will help us appreciate and celebrate the diversity of His church, and live in solidarity with His family.
* O'Day,Gail R., "John" Women's Bible Commentary, Carolyn A. Newsome and Sharon H. Ringe, eds. Louisville: Westminster Press, 1998