Who Are My Family?

OK from the get-go all Dryden Family members at ease. I ain’t defecting. (Yet)

I was watching Captain America: Civil War for the second time, recently, and I intend to watch it a third time as soon as I can. I love it for a lot of reasons, but this is not a movie review (though obviously I strongly recommend you watch it).

One of the reasons why I love it is because it touches on arguably the most important factor of life – family. Not only does it explore family and its associated issues, it does so from a perspective where none of the main protagonists are related by blood, but have a strong connection that goes beyond friendship and the loyalty and comradeship of similar activities.

It reminded me of the episode in the life of Jesus where he’s holding a conversation with a crowd and it’s a packed setting. A message gets to him that his Mum and brothers are around and they want a word. Jesus’ response is to query who these folks are – as in who really are his family? He goes on to state that only those who are about his Father’s business are his family.

That might have come across as a surprise were it not for the fact that it’s not the first time he put his Father’s business before the concerns of his other relatives. Way back at the age of 12, he saw it fit to leave his parents and family to eventually be found in his Father’s house, conversing about his Father’s business being a bit puzzled as to why there was a fuss made about where he found himself.

Family for him always took a broader and at the same time more specific bearing than what others considered to be the right way. That meant for him family was: a tax collector, a bunch of fishermen, a former prostitute, a woman caught in adultery, a man who had leprosy, another geezer who had been tormented and as a result tormented an entire community. Being born of the blood was one thing, being born of the Father by the Spirit was the connection that sealed the deal as far as he was concerned. That made all the difference. They were his precious kin and he did everything for them, even as they learnt to do everything for him and the glory of their Father.

Hundreds and hundreds of years later, I consider family. There were definitions given as to who my family were. Some about the blood and the surname. Some about the denomination and organisation. Some about ethnicity and apparent shared history. All noble references that I am not dismissing. Yet reality and experience have taught me that there is a connection that’s apparent by the blood of the Son and the Spirit from our Father that truly connects me with people who do not fit those conventional definitions. Reality and experience as well as the Word have highlighted that truly those about our Father’s business are really family to me.

It’s why I am such a fan of the concept of family in a story, because it’s fundamental to my entire development as a human being. Not because of formal education, useful though that was. It was because brothers and sisters who didn’t grow up with me, didn’t have the same surname or biological or ethnic background, didn’t sign up to the same doctrinal beliefs, actually displayed the love of our Father in accepting and embracing me, warts and all, by His grace and extended the hand of brotherhood to me to help me out. Likewise they gave me the honour and privilege of sharing life with them for whatever season we could.

Sometimes that happened in times of conflict and misunderstanding with those from the conventional definitions, which is what reaffirmed their position as truly brother and sister to me. It’s not everyone that can understand family that way. But it is open to everyone to truly experience it that way in its broader and specific nature as we encounter Jesus and His amazing love for us. As we experience that, it opens up so many unconventional doors to brothers and sisters waiting to help you and waiting for help from you as we be about our Father’s business together.

Thank God for our Father. Thank God for His Son. Thank God for His Spirit that makes His family one.

(Don’t forget to watch Captain America: Civil War, though, yeah? And if you’ve already seen it, watch it again … with family.)

For His Name’s Sake
Shalom
C. L. J. Dryden

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