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Expanding the Idea of Family

June 8, 2018

 

Mark 3:20-21
Then Jesus entered a
house, and again a crowd
gathered, so that he and
his disciples were not even
able to eat. When his
family heard about this,
they went to take charge
of him, for they said, “He is
out of his mind.”

 

Not everyone’s favorite passage of scripture, as Jesus seems to reject his family as his family is trying to protect him from increasingly rowdy crowds and angry religious leaders.
Although it may look like Jesus is rejecting his family; it can also be seen as Jesus working to expand the idea of family. Many churches think of themselves as church families, just as many of the letters written by Jesus’ earliest followers refer to followers of Christ as being “adopted” into the family of God.


We all love being included in a loving family. I am part a large family and some of my best memories are when we all gathered together for barbeques and picnics. We grew up in
a military community as well and it was even more amazing when we were part of an extended family at the annual company picnic when 200 service men and women and their children take up an entire football field for a picnic with games and food.


Expanding the family to include others is a beautiful thing. When a close knit church family
opens its arms to welcome newcomers, they are extending the loving welcome of Jesus. Such welcome requires courage, because expanding the family changes our family and changes us too. When Jesus first gathered the twelve disciples, he formed a new sort of family—a family whose close relationship of ministry and service changed not only those disciples, but Jesus himself.


It certainly changed his family, who no longer had him at home in Nazareth. As part of the Great Commission Jesus asked his disciples to invite everyone, all ethnics and nationalities to expand the family. As Jesus expanded his circle of disciples to include women, men, and even children beyond the twelve, the way they related to one another changed. 

 

Expanding the family changes us—something that takes courage. The growth and inclusion of new people changes us. These changes may even seem threatening or dangerous. When we welcome people whom society rejects, we may be rejected, as Jesus was. When we include people who have needs beyond our own, we may feel a heavier burden and a need for more rest, as Jesus and the disciples did. And yet, expanding the family defines us, for we are Christians only because Jesus expanded the family beyond his birth family—beyond those first disciples, and even beyond his Jewish community. We are family, because Jesus had the courage to expand the family. We honor Jesus by continuing to expand the family with an ever wider welcome, ever greater inclusion, and increasingly courageous love to strangers.
~ Adapted from Mary Scifres Ministries

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