February 7, 2007

by John Fischer

Jesus says in John 17:21, «I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one …»

What does it mean to be «family»?


First of all, it means blood. Blood relatives trump all other relationships. You don’t get to choose your family; you don’t select your mother or your father, your siblings or your kids. What you have is what you got, and like it or not, it’s your blood. You will not be a healthy person unless you embrace this. Deny your family and you deny yourself in some way.


So what if your family is dysfunctional? Actually, I have yet to meet one that isn’t. I suppose, like all things, this is relative. Some are worse off than others. Some appear perfect by comparison, but time would reveal sores, wounds, and neglect. There are «black sheep» in every family. There are unforgiven sins. There are breeches, walls, and weak links in the family chain, but there is blood nonetheless, and the life is in the blood.


In the movie Parenthood, staring Steve Martin, there is a scene where the wayward son is asking his father to loan him some money. He’s in trouble and he owes someone who will harm him if he doesn’t pay back. He’s also got a new scheme that will make him «millions,» but will take him out of the country, which means he must leave his illegitimate son with his dad, too. And the dad gives him the money and takes the grandson, even though he knows he will probably not see the money or his son again. Why does he do it? Blood. It’s what a father does. God himself was represented in a similar story that Jesus told of the prodigal son, as one who gave his son his inheritance when he asked for it, knowing full well he was going to squander it unwisely. No questions asked. No lecture.


If this is the way it is with our earthly families, how much more with our heavenly one, into which we have been adopted by blood – the precious blood of Jesusí That blood not only paid the price for our sins, it put us in a family with a heavenly father who gives good gifts – who loves, disciplines, and is extremely patient because he has already forgiven. We’ve got a new kind of family with blood relatives for eternity. And even though these «blood of Jesus» relatives will disappoint us on earth, we are still family. We are one with God and each other. We will soon experience this oneness in heaven in its perfection, even as we have glimpses of it now, so we treat each other as family, regardless. We look past our dysfunctions. We embrace our brokenness, because Jesus has done the same for us. We are blood.


We will always be.


CORRECTION: It has come to my attention that the quote I attributed to George Carlin last week in the devotional «What takes our breath away,» was actually written by Dr. Bob Moorehead, former pastor of Overlake Christian Church in Redmond, Wash., and published in his book Words Aptly Spoken. It has been incorrectly attributed to George Carlin in numerous e-mails, and he has personally condemned its message and his connection to it. That said, I still affirm the content of the piece and even my comments about Mr. Carlin's ability to help us face the inconsistencies of our human condition. Thanks to those who pointed this out to me.  On a learning curve about eRumors — John Fischer


John Fischer resides in Southern California with his wife, Marti and son, Chandler. They also have two adult children, Christopher and Anne. John is a published author and popular speaker.

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