Friday, December 24, 2010

Family Defined

Christmas Eve is here, and I'm sure many of you are off to see Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins. Christmas is one of the best times of the year for spending time with family. Traditions abound, and so much love is shared - I know how much I always enjoy spending time with my siblings and parents this time of year.

But recently, I was thinking about Jesus (after all, Christmas is about Him, right?) and His response to family. Remember this passage from Luke?

"Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. Someone told him, 'Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.' He replied, 'My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.'" [8:19-21]

I think we often read this with subtle shock, as Jesus seems to totally set aside his mother and brothers. Were they really that unimportant, that he wouldn't give them any kind of special treatment at all? I think though, that Jesus is here just blowing open our definition of family. While family is fantastic, I think we often have a tendency, especially around Christmas, to narrow our view of who "counts" as family. But if we truly desire to live like Jesus did, we'll have to expand our definition as well.

Family is defined as "those who hear God's word and put it into practice." In the Hall household, extended relatives have often been far away during the holidays, so I think we kind of fell into this broader definition of family by default. We have many "adopted" Aunts and Uncles, Grandparents and Cousins who we've spent our holidays with. Just today, our house was full of friends, decorating cookies, and we had dinner with our most recent adopted Grandparents, Jan and Gary.

Even Jesus shared His first Christmas with people who weren't blood relatives. The shepherds and the wisemen heard God's word (from the angels, and the star and prophecies), and put it into practice by seeking for the baby. Can you imagine Mary's discomfort? With all the worrying we do about getting the house clean for company. . . she had just had a baby. In a stable, no less. Not exactly a setting you want "non-family" people to see you in. And yet, going back to what Jesus said, they are family.

I think this challenges us to let go of our narrow definition of family, and the stress that comes with it - cleaning frenzies and putting on our "perfect" behavior. Who can we include as "family" this year? And how can we change our hearts, so we can focus more on loving them as family, rather than impressing them?

1 comment:

maestra said...

Becky well said....I pray that this year many Christians all over the world will come to see that we are connected as families all the world with our brothers and siters in Christ. Often times they don't do things exactly as we do but our common denominator is that we love Jesus and want to give Him all the glory. To a wonderful year of families in Christ in 2011! Merry Christmas!