Study: Hope Church Triad Program
Today’s Chocolate: Green & Black’s Organic Milk Chocolate with Almonds
Today’s Passage: Matthew 12:46-50
I’ve never seen more than ten minutes of Home Alone. In 1990, my parents took my brother and me to see it at the theater, but the first ten minutes were so full of family dysfunction and bad child behavior that Mom and Dad decided to walk us out of it. In particular, my mom took issue on many levels with Macaulay Culkin’s declaration “Families suck.” At the time, Home Alone was the latest hot ticket, and I was profoundly disappointed that my parents had dropped the hammer on it. But to this day, I still haven’t seen the full movie, and I honestly think I’m none the worse for it.
But the PG-level family friction we see in the opening scenes of Home Alone is the norm for a lot of families. We’re not living in first-century Judea. Parents divorce, siblings fight, kids in abusive home situations (and even comparatively positive home situations!) plan to cut ties with their families as soon as they’re out of the house. Continuing the family line is no longer the huge cultural deal it once was. For good and ill, modern Americans approach family in a vastly different way, and you may well agree with Kevin McCallister: “Families suck.”
I had a pretty good home life growing up, and I still have a good relationship with my nuclear family. So I can only speculate how it sounds to you when Jesus says, “Whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50). Maybe you had an absentee father or an alcoholic dad, and you’d just as soon go dadless. Maybe you bounced from foster home to foster home, with countless parents but no real parents to call your own. Maybe your brothers and sisters were jerks. Or maybe not! But no family is perfect, and yours may even have been so odious as to turn you off from families entirely.
So is this the part of the post where I try to convince you that families can actually be pretty rad? The part where I say, “You may have come from a bad family, but let me tell you about God’s family?” Surprise, it’s not. God’s family ain’t perfect either, and you don’t need me to tell you that. If we’ve turned you off from the Christian faith, could we blame you?
No, this is the part of the post where I turn to address my Christian brothers and sisters. We call ourselves a family, but I can’t help but ask, along with the O.C. Supertones in their song “One Voice,” “Are we less like a family and more like a fistfight?” Do you think it’s God’s will for us to be so vicious, lying, and self-absorbed? To seize political power like a cudgel, and use it to beat our opponents into submission?
Look, I’m not about to claim that the things that make us uniquely Christian, faith in the gospel, belief in the Bible, following God’s commands, are inherently hateful. Nor am I claiming that we’re a bottom-of-the-barrel fetid pile of garbage. There will always be people who refuse to see Christianity as anything but awful. But this Christianity, as it is, not as it could be or should be? This isn’t what Jesus Christ had in mind when he invited us to join his family and do the will of the Father. He knew we’d botch it, he knew we’d fall short, and he let us join his family anyway.
Now that we’re in the family, it’s time to act like it. We need to step up our game and put aside the selfishness and hate. God’s will is for us human beings to love him and love each other, so let’s make this a family that visibly, manifestly has something you can’t get from any other family.
We are the family of Jesus Christ. Let’s get on that.