Most would agree, when it comes to the Christmas season, it’s all about family.
I’m privileged to be a part of rather big family relationship on my wife’s side. She’s the oldest of nine and when everyone gets together for holiday celebrations it can be quite intimidating for someone like myself. I have two sisters and not much consistent connection with either. Over the thirty years my wife and I have been married, having multiple occasions to observe the family dynamic, I’ve learned a couple of things. First, nine kids, their siblings and their sibling’s siblings, can produce quite a large display of people when all gathered in one place – the family home. Two, no one is a stranger or outsider when you’re in her parent’s home. If you walk through their front door, you’re not only welcome, you’re included. It really is something amazing to witness.
During the Last Supper event, a supper with family, Jesus continues to explain to his “little children” the meaning of his ministry and ultimate objective. During that intimate event and the teaching moment surrounding it, there is one phrase that stands out and brings everything to a type of climax. It’s in John 14:18: “I will not leave you as orphans.”
That word “orphans” simply means to be parentless, without a father, without a teacher or guide. Jesus said he will not leave those who have believed in him in that condition. They will not be orphans. If they loved Jesus they will be loved by the father. They will not be parentless. They will not be left to fend for themselves on the streets of despair and loneliness. They will be accepted in the family of God without question based on their belief and commitment to the son. There is no need for their heart to be troubled, there’s plenty of room at the table of God. No one goes hungry there.
There are times when I lose sight of the family dynamic that resides on a plane different from what I grew up with. Too often I think my relationship to God’s family is a reflection of what I experienced growing up and that’s not it at all. There are no latch-key kids in God’s family. The father and his son are always present and the guidance in what it means to be a member of the family never stops. When belief in the son is expressed and fleshed out, there is only one message on the mat at God’s front door; “Welcome! Come on in, you’re part of the family. There are no orphans within these walls.”
It really is all about family.