For the first five years after my mom’s death, I hated one Sunday at church — Mother’s Day. No matter how sensitively it was phrased, other people had mothers that day, and I did not, and it hurt.
Doris noticed. Without children herself, she took that 18-year-old college kid into her heart and made it her business to be what I didn’t have — an older woman who listened, advised and modeled the way to be a Christian woman in a graceless world. For that time, Doris drew me into her circle of “family.”
Thirty years later, I would take a troubled boy into our home and become what he didn’t have — a “parent” offering Christian love in a painful world. I’d love him into the kingdom, though I would not be able to save his life. Thirty years later, Doris’ legacy of bringing others into her family continues into three generations because she knew what we forget in this age of circling the nuclear family wagons. God’s “family” includes a lot of people.
Ephesians 2:19 explains that “you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household.”
The word “household” expresses belonging. One who is in it is devoted to its members — to a family and a relationship. Thus, anyone who is a believer in Jesus has also agreed to be part of God’s big, crazy family. When one member of the family needs something, others step up to supply that need.
That idea of extended family in God’s kingdom matters to our discipleship. It means we’re always to be looking out for someone who may need to be part of our family, though not related by blood. God’s declaration that they belong to us is stronger than blood. It means that a growing disciple of Christ will naturally become a mother or father or sister or son to someone who needs that relationship because we are growing away from being strangers and toward one big household.
Whom do you know personally that needs a family: single moms, college students far from home, estranged teens, parents missing their kids, older people alone, that homeless guy you pass every morning or someone in prison?
Jill Richardson is a Free Methodist pastor, wife and mother sharing God’s grace through speaking, writing (jillmarierichardson.com) and living.
DISCUSSION: Which of these people do you believe God is calling you to make your family?  What can you do today to follow through?