In Christ God was reconciling the world to himself.
2 Corinthians 5:19
People by nature are social animals (some more than others). We need other people to survive and thrive.
When God created the world, God built within us a need for community. Other animals are born ready to survive on their own, but human beings are born unable to survive without the kindness of others. We are born dependent and begin a life of interdependence.
To this end, each of us have groups to which we are loyal. We are part of many “tribes” that become part of our identity. Examples include your family, schools, religion/denomination/congregation, town/state/nation, and,this close to Super Bowl Sunday I would be remise in forgetting, our teams.
If you find yourself saying “we won the game” after your team wins, then chances are part of your identity is wrapped up in the team. Think about it, you didn’t win the game because you weren’t on the field playing (“coaching” from the couch does not count!).
Loyalty is good, it is how we are hardwired and created, it can keep us safe and help us know who we are. Unfortunately, our basic instinct to create communities or tribes has a shadow side. The shadow side is the exclusion of others and a deeply rooted fear or suspicion of other tribes and those who are different from “us.” For survival it makes sense to be suspicious of strangers; however, this basic fear causes war, violence, and cruelty.
Jesus does something remarkable by dying on the cross. Jesus expands all our small tribes and groups and makes us all part of one big tribe, one big family of God.
Jesus, a Palestinian Jew, goes beyond his family and his people bound by blood, tradition, and religion, and Jesus includes the whole world in it. Jesus as God’s only Son, adopts you and me and the whole world into The Family. In other words, the family just got much bigger.
Being family has responsibilities and privileges. Families are made for mutual care, protection and shared resources. For a family to thrive it must be generous with forgiveness, it must challenge each other to be their best, it must defend each member and share resources to make sure everyone has enough.
By making us all family, Jesus challenges you and me to see strangers as distant cousins rather than potential enemies. Jesus expands our empathy, our connection and care, to all people, all nations, and even all religions.
To be clear. I am writing as a Christian who believes that is because of and through Jesus that this is possible and happens. I still believe Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life (John 14:6).” I also believe that God has reconciled the whole world to himself through Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:19). This means I don’t have to agree with people of other households of faith to see them as part of God’s family. My niece is a Viking fan, I still love her and we are still family. Jesus is more important than anything that might divide us!