Related For Better and Worse, Keeps Families Interesting

“Granddaughters have a way of amazing you with their maturity and independence,” I told Ed.  Hannah, our oldest granddaughter, came last week for a short, whirlwind visit. “Being nineteen she wanted to see the campuses of the University of the Fraser Valley, here at Chilliwack and in Abbotsford. She also conspired with her grandmother to accomplish lots of shopping and nonstop activity. Usually, our family is a quiet two, but when children or grandchildren come, it is a whole different, welcome, world.”

Ed, my old neighbor from Saskatchewan, had to remind me of the comment of George Burns, “Happiness is having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city.”  Then Ed added, “A comfortable two-day drive away.” He also had to add that families can be messy since we are related for better or worse. He ended with the saying, “Being related is no guarantee of love.”

I commented to him that you do not choose your family. Your family is God’s gift to you, as you are to them. The bond that links your family together is not blood but love for each other.

Ed took exception to my words, telling me that his uncle Wilbur was not a gift but an embarrassment to his family. Having heard all the adverse actions of Ed’s uncle Wilbur numerous times, I tried to head him off from telling me them yet again. I said to Ed that I know how it feels to be an embarrassment to your family. Becoming a Pastor was an embarrassment to a number, of my family that consider church the last place in the world that people need to be.

Families are unique, with fathers, mothers, children, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins all very distinct individuals. One father is strict while another father may pay no attention to his child’s behavior. Some brothers are protective and kind to their siblings, while others take after Cain in the Old Testament in their lack of brotherly love.

In the church, God builds his people together person to person through our faith in Jesus Christ. In God’s family, love is given us in his Son. God’s love is for those who do not deserve it. In accepting Christ’s undeserved love for us, we are to pass love onto others. Parents are to love and honor each other. Children are to obey their parents. Parents are to bring their children up in the discipline and instruction in the Lord. God’s word calls us to love, but our ability to love and honor our spouse, to obey our parents and to treat other family members with love is limited. There are no perfect families for we all are imperfect. We need God’s love beyond our own. We do not do unto others as we would have them do unto us.

Thankfully we were loved by God first so that his love might empower and motivate our own. In love, God sent his Son into the world that we would live through him. Jesus was the atoning sacrifice for our sins. Since he loved us, we ought to love one another in our family and our church and everywhere. God’s love is made complete in us when we love each another. (1 John 4:9-12)

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