“For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven, that person is My brother and sister and mother.”
When I was six years old, my parents took a gigantic leap of faith. Seeking a better life, they abandoned their Michigan roots and moved to a small town in Alabama. My father secured a position with the government, mom was a nurse, and my brother was a nuisance!
It didn't take us long to find a church and establish roots of a spiritual kind. This was no ordinary place. In Hartselle, Alabama, most people were related, having spent generations living in the same town.
At first, we seemed like aliens—Yankees—who had dropped into this land of grits, okra, and sweet tea. We knew nothing about southern ways and the genteel life of farming and cotton gins. The learning curve was a little slippery, as my parents had such strong northern accents.
We quickly learned that “y’all” meant “all of you.” And our heads no longer rested on a pillow. In the south, you sleep on a “pilla.” There was no denying it. We weren’t from around here.
Slowly, people began to accept us. We bought a beautiful home and had lovely Christian neighbors. However, I felt the sorrow of being distanced from family. My grandmother was no longer around to babysit me. And I desperately missed the silly stories of my funny grandpa. I longed to have the close family ties my friends had.
Then one day, Mrs. Rollins grandchildren got off the school bus and invited me to come to Maw-Maw's house for fried pies! I felt immediately accepted and loved by that godly woman. She filled the lonely gap in my heart.
Mrs. Strickland, at the drugstore, loved to stroke my red hair. She’d tell my Mama how much she enjoyed my light-hearted personality and always encouraged me to sing a song. Her eyes sparkled as she talked. I always felt loved by her. Thus, another grandmother moved into my heart. She and other Christians began to feel like family.
Jesus posed this question: “Who is my mother and who are my brothers?” Pointing to the disciples, He responded, “Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.”
What comfort this gave me as a young girl. I realized that even though our blood relatives were 12 hours away, God had provided family of a spiritual kind through the family of God.
What a joy to know that we’re to embrace one another as relatives in the body of Christ with grace, forgiveness, and unconditional love—because Christ demonstrated we’re to lay down our lives for our friends and family. In Luke, it’s referenced this way: “My mother and My brothers are those who hear and do the word of God.”
May we too put into practice God's word. May we experience the sense of family that causes us not to harbor offense, but to stay in good grace with those we feast with around the table of faith. When we do, our Father is pleased that we regard one another with kindness and love, as unto Himself.
- Have you ever felt that someone other than family is family to you?
- Who do you feel are your spiritual mothers, sisters, and brothers?
- Are you intentionally treating others in the body of Christ as family?
- Are you living in forgiveness and unconditional love?
- Might there be someone in the family of faith whom you need to forgive?