Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. (1 Tim. 6:17-18)

Thursday, May 12, 2011

The Uniqueness of Family

Photo by peff
A Rabbi's Struggle

As part of my recent trip of Israel, my tour group visited the Aish HaTorah yeshiva right across from the Western Wall. One of the yeshiva's rabbis met with our group and discussed a number of issues regarding the nation of Israel and its history.

A question that this rabbi has struggled with for a number of years was what exactly are the Jewish people? Are they a country? Well, certainly, the Jewish people had their own nation in the past and after a few thousand years, they became a nation once again. But the Jewish people themselves still survived and prospered during their exiles in the in-between times of being a nation. Today, there are Jewish people all over the world who are not living in the actual State of Israel. No, that couldn't be the answer.

Or, maybe they are a religious group? That certainly makes a lot of sense, given the fact that God had established this nation almost 4,000 years ago as a theocracy. Religion has always played a large part for the Jewish people. But, there are many secular, non-religious Jews in the world today. Does this make them non-Jewish?

Maybe the Jewish people are a people group. They have a shared history, ancestry, language, and culture. While this may be true, there are also a wide-variety of Jews that don't necessarily share the same cultural practices. There are distinct populations of African Jews, Russian Jews, German Jews, American Jews, as well as many others.

A Rabbi's Revelation

The conclusion that this rabbi finally came to was the fact that the Jewish people are a family. Obviously, this makes total sense. The Jewish people are all descended from the patriarchs - Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And in spite of their various cultural, nationality, and religious differences, the majority of the Jewish people feel a kindred spirit of being part of one, enormous family.

Over the millennia, the Jewish people have remained mostly united as one large family spread across the globe. Now that they have their homeland back, I believe they have even a stronger familial relationship with one another. They love one another and support one another as only family can.

The Family of God

The universal church could learn a lot from the Jewish people. You know, just as the Jewish people are a family, so to are those of us who claim the name of Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. We are one big family that has been "grafted into" the Jewish family (see Romans 11).

Unfortunately, though, we don't always offer the aid, love, and support to our brothers and sisters in Christ as we should. Instead, we get hung up on petty, denominational differences. We could accomplish so much more for God's Kingdom if we could lay much of the bickering aside and unite under our common goal to reach the world for Christ.

As family, we truly do need each other. And, when we love each other with the love of Christ, we demonstrate to an unbelieving world that there is something uniquely different about our faith as compared to all the other religions of the world. As I close out this post, consider the following verses on loving one another in the Body of Christ:
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35).
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord (Romans 12:9-11).
This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another (1 John 3:10-11).
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