A couple of weeks ago, I listened to a friend teach on Mary and Martha and their friendship with Jesus. He talked about good friends, and the way they walk into your totaled house, and instead of judging the mess, lend a hand because they know you and realize your week was rough. He talked about Martha's frantic service, and Mary's fellowship. I've kind of had it in the back of my mind since then.
Two of my sisters have been in town for the holiday. I didn't clean my house to welcome my little sister and her husband and three kids the other night. (And believe me, the house could have used the attention.) But it's my sister. She loves me. She keeps an amazing house herself, but I don't care if she sees my dirty dishes -- because she's my sister. She's not here to see how my house looks. And, aware of the remodeling that has been going on forever, when she walked into my kitchen (which was not yet cleaned up from dinner), and which showed off my cluttering skills, she said, "It's beautiful!" That would not be the comment out of the mouth of an acquaintance. An acquaintance would see the mess. But my sister saw the improvement.
I share DNA with my family. It isn't the only way to gain membership to a family, but it's how I got in. We are members because we are part of one another. My husband married in. We also have a sister we accepted in. She doesn't share DNA with us. She has no legal standing with us. But she's ours. We take her part, and she takes ours.
Sometimes it seems like rather than being a family, as Jesus asked us to, we change family into something else. Club members have an artificial likeness to one another. There are entrance fees and dues to be paid in order to reap the benefits of membership. Club membership requires conformity. And no fellow member of the club is going to be accepted without anxiety into my trashed house -- because my membership in the club could be affected by my mess. I am only accepted on the basis of my performance.
On the other hand, the biggest losers in the family have full membership. The laziest ones. The stupidest ones. The immature ones. The uncool ones. The ones who went away and crept back, battered. The ones who agree with all my opinions and the ones who oppose them have equal part in my family. There is no attitude of "all those who hold my opinions are on a higher plane than the rest."
I have been chased by my sister with a butcher knife, and she's still in. I've been wrongly accused of things; I've tried to poison my sister with harmless but disgusting substances; I've given out at least four black eyes to the same brother; yelled at members and been yelled at by them -- and none of us have been excommunicated from the family.
Every one of us would have been put out of a club.
Bad news for one of us hurts all of us. And causes for rejoicing are equally joyous. And I think that as each member has grown older and matured, the other members have become more precious and more valued. Our relationship has become more layered. We are friends as well as family. And we have learned to communicate our disagreements without resorting to gouging each others' eyes out.
I'm glad Jesus offers me membership in a family, and not a club. I am accepted in the Beloved.
"Accept one another, then, for the glory of God, as Christ has accepted you." (Romans 15:7)