Many, many years ago a friend quoted a phrase to me, that “Friends are the family we choose”. I know it may sound a little trite, but for those who don’t really have an immediate family themselves (be it parents, siblings or children), it’s comforting to realize that just because we may not have similar genetic members of the human species in our life, that it doesn’t mean we don’t have family.
CHOOSING your family can be an awesome blessing. For some of us, our friends truly are our family, and it’s wonderful. I’m blessed to have a family here in Austin whom I consider my family. He’s my “brother” – his wife and girls are just part of my family. That’s who I spend my time with on holidays, that’s who I watch our favorite TV show with. I have a “sister” in Sacramento. We didn’t grow up together, in fact we never met until I was in my 40’s, but she’s my sister – we talk when we can, but we love each other just as much and to lose the other would hurt as much as if we had grown up together.
Think of the children who are adopted each and every day. There are adults who CHOSE to add these children to their family. There is no biological connection, no emotion connection. Just a desire to expand their family by giving love to someone who was alone in the world. Those children are not sons or daughters because they have an adult sperm or egg donor to take care of them, they are sons and daughters of people who don’t care about their past but who WANT them to be part of their lives.
In ANY family whether you’re a genetic or adopted member, there are fights, there are arguments, and there are times when we just don’t like each other at all. Sometimes we wonder “how is it we come from the same parents?” Or perhaps it’s “how is it that you’re my parents?” Or “after all these years I don’t understand how you’re my child.”
John chapter 1:12 tells us that “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (NIV). The “him” referred to is Jesus. Verse 13 says that it’s not of blood or of the flesh, but of God. As Christians, we’re not related by blood or flesh (OK, it you want to go back to Adam, I won’t argue with you, but you KNOW what I mean), but as those who have received Him into our lives – we are ALL children of God. That makes us all brothers and sisters in Christ.
Now for the earth shattering news – Christians argue, Christians disagree, and yes even sometimes Christians don’t like each other. We know it, we do it, and for some reason we seem to be ok with it. WHY is it OK with us to watch our Christian family fight (or even be a part of that fight) and yet we join in when the particular “cause” we believe in gives us a feeling of righteous standing to belittle, dismiss or even judge that the other person clearly isn’t saved, knows “enough” about Jesus or frankly, just is wrong regardless of whatever they say… “I’m right, you’re wrong no matter what you say.”
Think about it from the standpoint of a parent. If you are or have been a parent, how do you feel when your children fight? I don’t have children myself. I can tell you if my two dogs ever barked and bit each other, I would be devastated. I love each of my dogs. If they ever found a reason to not like each other, ever if only for a brief moment it would break my heart. So it’s a little hard for me to fully appreciate what it might be for a parent to witness their children angrily fighting with each other – how it must hurt to see your children whom you love to no end fight with each other.
Now imagine for a moment just how it must break God’s heart to see us argue and fight amongst ourselves over things that really aren’t that important to him. [This is where I want you to actually STOP READING for a moment and think about Christians arguing with Christians.] He wants to see His family happy and loving each other just as any loving parent would.
1st John 3: 1 says “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are.”
As Christians we spend all kinds of energy and effort arguing in our churches and in social media over things God really doesn’t care all that much about. Sure, there were situations specific to the times, culture and PLACE that required perhaps a specific stern word or two (telling women to remain silent in 1st Corinthians comes to mind), but that doesn’t mean that each word gets copied and pasted into our 21st century world.
Christ made it very clear and frankly easy for us when the thief on the cross being crucified with him asked Jesus to remember him when he gets to heaven (showing his faith that Jesus was who He said He was) and Jesus told him “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.” Really simple. This was a criminal, perhaps a murderer. Whoever he was, he was put to death for it and yet in his last moments, he realized that Jesus was who He said He was and that was all it took.
As you read this, that criminal is in heaven with our Lord. Don’t take my word for it, Jesus said it Himself.
So when people start to argue with you over should you be baptized as an infant or as an adult, can you get to heaven if you don’t say a particular prayer, if a woman has an abortion will she go to hell, let’s get back to the basics.
What must you do to be saved? Acts 16:31 “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.”
God’s greatest commandment: Matt. 22: 37-40 “‘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.’”
Your neighbor is EVERYONE. That includes your Christian and non-Christian brothers and sisters.
Anything else is just children arguing and needing the parent to step in. So before you decide to pick a “Biblical” fight with someone, think about what our Father wants from us, how He sees us, and ultimately, how He loves ALL of us.