We Are Family
We Are Family
by Dale Reeves
If you grew up in the 70s and 80s you probably remember one of the favorite songs of that era, “We Are Family,” released in 1979 and recorded by the all-girls group Sister Sledge. They sang these words:
We are family, I got all my sisters with me;
We are family, get up everybody and sing . . .
All of the people around us they say, “Can they be that close?”
Just let me state for the record, we’re giving love in a family dose . . .
Here’s what we call our golden rule: Have faith in you and the things you do.
You won’t go wrong, oh no, this is our family jewel.
Does that describe the closeness you experience in your family, whether you have sisters, brothers, children, a spouse, parents, step-parents, or grandparents living with you? Depending on your upbringing, and your current situation, the word “family” can call to mind many wonderful recollections. It can also stir up some very depressing and dark memories from your childhood. Over the past month I’ve heard the word “family” mentioned in the media quite a bit. When Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gigi, and seven other people died in that fateful helicopter crash, news outlets were talking about the family that is the LA Laker nation. There is a certain bond that brings them together in difficult moments like this. When Bobby Knight made his appearance at Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Indiana, this past Saturday—for the first time in twenty years since he was fired—the significance of the moment could only truly be grasped by the Hoosier basketball faithful. It’s because they are family.
In Webster’s dictionary, there are several definitions for family. One of them is “a group of persons of common ancestry; a clan.” This past week I received a photo from one of my cousins from the south. She posted a picture on Facebook I had never seen before that included my “Papa,” Grady Reeves, as a young man, alongside his brothers and sisters, his mother and father, and his grandmother—all dressed in their Sunday best. There was not one smile on their faces because people didn’t smile for their photos in those days. My cousin simply titled the photo “Reeves clan.” I attended Papa’s funeral when I was only ten years old, and I had heard some stories of some uncles and aunts I never really knew, but this picture gives me a visual of them. It helps to know something of the legacy they passed down to me.
When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses to pass on to his people the Israelites, he included these strong words in Exodus 20:3-5:
“You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me” (NLT).
If you are a parent or a grandparent, you must take these words seriously, not just for yourself, but for your children, their children, and their children’s children (to the third and fourth generations)! It is an awesome undertaking, this thing called parenting. My wife and I are currently taking a “Grandparenting Matters” class with some other members of our church, learning how to be more intentional with the gift we have been given as grandparents. And our influence can either be a blessing or a curse to the next three generations.
Many cultures have understood how critical the concept of a larger family unit is in developing character in the next generations. For instance . . .
- The Hebrew word mishpachah means an entire Jewish family network of relatives by blood or marriage (and sometimes very close friends) that constitutes a tight social unit.
- The Greek word oikos was used to refer to a household that encompassed the literal house where the clan lived together, including the husband, wife, children, other relatives, and even their servants.
- In Spanish culture, la familia refers to one’s immediate biological family as well as the circle of close friends and coworkers, and members of another community or organization who are bound by common interests.
- Ohana is a Hawaiian word that encompasses a larger family, including those connected by blood as well as a person’s best friends, neighbors, and anyone else who is special in someone’s life.
The church’s job is to come alongside families in this task of worshiping and having affection only for the one true God. Our enemy knows one of the best ways to strike a blow to Christ’s church is to target his temptations toward the families in the church. We must have our guard up at all times for the sake of ourselves, and future generations. The apostle Paul gives some practical instructions for families as well as the family of faith in Ephesians 4:31, 32: “Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you” (NLT).
This Sunday is Family Day at Christ’s Church, and all middle school and high school students will be joining with adults in the auditorium for worship at 9:00 and 10:30 am, as we talk about the topic “I Wish I Could Be Engaged” in a greater way as a family.
If you want to learn how to better connect with your spouse and children, discover how other members of your family are wired, and reduce the drama in your home, I would encourage you to sign up for the upcoming “Life in the Zone” event that will take place in our building Saturday, March 7. Wanna know more? Check out this link: http://www.lifeinthezone.com/march7.html