Thursday, 22 June 2017

We are family, actually

"I wish you were dead, Dad." That's how the story starts. Boy wants Dad dead so that he gains instant access to his inheritance. And you probably know what comes next.

Son goes on a spending spree, runs out of funds, and comes home grovelling with
his tail between his legs. Dad is beside himself with happiness, restocks his wardrobe, gives him a card to the family bank account, and throws a BBQ.

End of story?

Well no, actually. Big brother is utterly cheesed off and starts official complaint procedures, exaggerating the details and emphasizing his outrage. "This son of yours..." he rants, listing all the faults of his baby brother. "He's blown it all, and now you're pouring good money after bad with this ridiculous party. What about me, 'Mr Loyalty' - where's my party? Is that really what you think of me?"

'My son,' the father said, 'you are always with me, and everything I have is yours. But we had to celebrate and be glad, because this brother of yours was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.'  (Luke 15:31-32)
We are family, actually!  Family.

Dad takes hold of two statements - 'this son of yours' and 'my son' - and firmly reminds him that therefore 'this is your brother'. Whether they like each other and agree, or hurt one another and disagree, they are still brothers, sons of the same father. They are family.

And it's an uncomfortable reminder - not just for the older son in Jesus' story, but for us.

Earlier this year the Holy Spirit confronted me about my own attitude, and it went something like this...

"Paul, you know these Christians that you disagree with - the ones with that crazy theology, or the ones making sinful life choices? Well, you have a choice. You can either say that they are not Christians. Or you need to acknowledge that they really are your brothers and sisters."
Now don't misunderstand me. This doesn't make those things right. It doesn't make the teaching or choices irrelevant. The Bible is saturated with examples of Christians with wrong ideas and teaching that needed to be corrected, or wrong choices that needed change in their lives. And it speaks of people's need to become children of God if they have not yet made that decision.

But if they have made that decision, then the bottom line is this: We are family. And I need to make sure that I regard them as family and treat them as family!

And if not, then I need to help them become family.

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