Summary: All of us are more alike than we are different, even those who are well outside our values. We need to see the broken as brothers and sisters in search of God, and to feel urgency about reaching them.
If blood is supposed to be thicker than water, meaning that we have a primary responsibility to our families, then I guess we had better know who our families are. I guess we’d better know who our blood kin are if blood is thicker than water, as the saying goes, and there is some kind of special responsibility to our own kinfolks. Who are our families?
Someone said to me this week, as she was reflecting on her future, "I have no family, you know." Well, I probed a little bit. I knew that she had no living brothers or sisters, and I knew that she had never been a mother. But I thought I knew of some others who were family. "Well, yes," she said, "there are some cousins. But I hardly know them. I don’t really consider them family." So I probed some more. I asked her if she had some good friends? “Oh, my, yes! I have great friends, devoted friends, the kind who will help you in every need." Then I asked about her church. “Oh, my church is wonderful. There are some people there who would do anything for me. I have a great church family. Oh! Church …family. I guess I do have a family, don’t I?
You see, family is broader than the folks who have the same last name or who sprang from the same great-grandparents. Family are the people who care about you, who have been through a lot of things with you, who have struggled when you have struggled. Family are the folks, whoever they are, who have sweated and prayed great drops of blood with you. Family is much broader than merely the official relatives.
Someone else called me the other day to tell me of the death of his good friend, a man with whom he had done many things over the years, someone he had cared for during his long illness and protracted dying. As we talked, I sensed that this loss of a good friend was no less painful, no less agonizing, than the loss of a blood brother. The mere accident of being born from the same parents and raised in the same home is not the only thing that makes us brothers. We are also brothers when we struggle together, live through pain together, share disappointments together. Family are the folks, whoever they are, who have sweated and prayed great drops of blood with you. Family is much broader than merely the official relatives.
I want to think with you about the broader human family in which we live. There are people all around us who are or who can become our family, our brothers and sisters.
The apostle Paul, speaking to the polite skeptics on Mars Hill in ancient Athens, decided to teach them about being one family. This Jew from Tarsus in Syria ... of a different race from these Greeks, speaking a different native language, having a different religious background, being from a culture quite unlike theirs ... this argumentative man representing a tiny, unheard of religion, decided to tell the cultured Athenians that they were like him and he like them. Probably not as easy message to hear.
But Paul asserted that all of them were of one blood. One family. And being of one blood had some very definite consequences.