July 14, 2019 • Life for Leaders
“There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”
Family. The topic has been headlining in the media for decades, and often as a political messaging football. Past generations have contemplated what constitutes a stable family environment, and its implications for all other aspects of life. Today, discussions around family and stability are primarily focused on our migratory patterns, as we try to consider what it means to live in community and be familial. Who are our neighbors? We know how to draw the biological distinction, but given how Jesus flipped the script on our thinking about family (Matthew 12: 46-50 KJV), it is imperative that we revisit who we, the Body of Christ, consider family and how we live in community.
Immigration has been an aspect of community and family life since time began. The biblical patriarchs and matriarchs that we cherish dearly were often living nomadic lives in search of safety and the “promised land.” It is easy to forget that life was so unbearable in Egypt for the Hebrew people that they essentially left to find a better place and sought asylum and refuge along the way. In the early church, Hellenistic Jewish widows lifted up their voices to advocate for justice in the “daily ministrations.” The fact that there was a distinction between Jews and Hellenistic Jews showed the presence of schisms and a “them v. us” mentality. Today the conversation around family is crucial to the immigration discourse. Many of the people seeking shelter are accompanied by family members and loved ones hoping to find a better life.
Recently there was a family migrating from El Salvador to the United States seeking asylum. They were making the grueling trek of many miles, trying to make it to the U.S. border. Many of us can only imagine how extraordinary this journey was as they walked amongst wildlife, experienced climate extremes, and hoped to have enough food and water to complete the journey. What we do know, however, is the resolution of their story. People around the world were shocked and outraged to see pictures of Oscar Alberto Martinez and his 25-month-old daughter lying dead in the water right near the U.S. border. The Martinez family had successfully made it to a U.S. port of entry, only to find it shut down. In their attempt to find another port of entry, this father and daughter drowned.
To be clear, immigration discourses are not just happening in the United States. The European and African continents are also struggling to adequately deal with large migration, stemming from a variety of things including war, climate change, and pursuit of a better life. Every nation-state struggles with balancing migratory ebbs and flows while protecting their citizens. How can countries ensure the safety of their people while also showing neighborly compassion and familial love?
This series has been exploring various functionalities within the Kingdom of God. I have focused on the belief that we, the Kingdom of God, are gifted with the ability to function in a variety of spaces in life and to provide solutions to problems that face our global community. This would include people uniquely anointed to understand family structures, how people function, and the related humanitarian issues. These people sit in our pews on Sunday mornings, they live among us in our neighborhoods, and they even teach in our academic institutions. They are social workers, case managers, teachers, counselors, psychologists, and psychiatrists, to name a few functionalities.
Those called in this way are not just proficient in the practical and technical aspects of their trade, but some even have a deep understanding of how God views these professions. They are uniquely qualified to develop solutions from God that address life’s situations succinctly and without side effects. And since they are Kingdom people, their solutions are often far reaching and comprehensive.
After all, the Kingdom of God is not contained by ethnic, racial, gender, class, political, or geographical divides. Governments across the globe are failing to strike the appropriate balance in dealing compassionately, humanely, and appropriately with family dynamics, dysfunctions, and realities. Perhaps it is time for the Kingdom to make space for these truly knowledgeable voices to lead us into God’s solutions to these problems.
God, today I lift up those who are called to the realm of Family. Thank you for the wisdom that you’ve given them to fix broken people, homes, and systems. Give them peace amidst restlessness and turmoil. Let your light shine evidently through the work that they do, and in the lives that they touch. And teach us, your body, how to be receptive to your revelations through them, and how to best support them. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.