This fortnight's blog is written by Tracy Brennen, reflecting on how we use the word 'Family' and what it meant to Jesus.
Recently I came across this tweet and it got me thinking about what I mean when I use the term ’family’. How would you respond? Obviously the first thing I did was looked up the definition of the word 'family' using an online dictionary. It tells me a couple of thing:
a group consisting of two parents and their children living together as a unit.
a group of people related by blood or marriage.
all the descendants of a common ancestor.
a group of peoples from a common stock.
a group of related things.
Ok, so that doesn't help because I’m pretty sure I’d count the guinea pig living at the bottom of my garden as family. And I’m pretty sure many of you will say your pet dog/cat/goldfish are part of your family. And what about that group you belong to? Choir, bible study groups, support groups, Scouts, Guides...do they feel like family?
There’s a passage in the Bible where Jesus was going around healing people and his family were worried about him. They were having doubts about him - people were saying he was crazy. Jesus had gone into a house and his mum and brothers had gone to find him and this is what happens next;
Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came. They stood outside and sent someone in to tell him to come out. Many people were sitting around Jesus. They said to him, “Your mother, your brothers, and your sisters are waiting for you outside.”
Jesus asked, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” Then he looked at the people sitting around him and said, “These people are my mother and my brothers! My true brother and sister and mother are those who do what God wants.”
Mark 3 : 31 - 35 (ERV)
So what’s that telling us about family? In that reading Jesus is saying something rather amazing. He’s sitting teaching surrounded by people from all sorts of families and backgrounds; different looks, different personalities. They’re there because they sense that in Jesus they can get close to God. They hang on to every word he says. As Jesus looks around he sees in their eyes their love of God and he counts all of them as members of his close family.
He is saying that any of us - no matter what family we are from, dysfunctional, close knit, large or small - are close members of Jesus family. Now, think about your own family - do you share the same traits, do people say you're just like your mother/father/uncle. Now imagine that you're part of Jesus family - can people see the same traits of Jesus - kind, loving, generous, wise, understanding, forgiving, accepting, welcoming?