Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Family Ties

Relatives...we all have them. The Bible is big on relatives. There are even chapters dedicated to informing us of lineages. As for myself, I often gloss over these long lists of names of who begat who. It's overwhelming and dry for me. Repeatedly, I have to tell myself that those names are there for a purpose. Sometimes the reason pops up at me and sometimes it doesn't. All the same, I have to admit, it can be hard to get through the lists.

So what's my point about relatives? Shortly after the lineage of Noah is given (Genesis 10-11) Abraham comes into the picture under the name Abram. In Chapter 13 he makes a strange statement that stood out to me. Abram tells Lot in verse 8, "...for we are close relatives". That got my mind rolling. Why would looking over the land remind Abram that they were close relatives?

If we don't read through the laundry list of names we miss the mention of how the enemies of the Israelites were distant family. I often thought the Canaanites (Genesis 10:6, 17-19) and the Philistines (Genesis 10:14) were totally unrelated to the Israelites. I have no idea where I thought they came from, but all the same I thought they were strangers to the people of God.

But when mankind was given a second chance at life after the flood, man from that point on was related to one another. Then there came the Tower of Babel. In that one night, families became strangers and yet they were still relatives. Ah, the birth of strange family ties.

If you look at who was alive at that time and how far down the lineage Abram was, you realize that not much time had passed. So as he walked through the promised land, he was walking around the land owned by distant relatives. Ah, sometimes distant relatives can be people who interest us to a point we wish we could be more like them. Then there are those we wish would go away. The idea of being related to people who act, think, or look so differently from us can be hard to swallow. This is where I think we find Abram in Chapter 13. While Abram may not have understood the Canaanite people around him, he knew of them as family – distant family. That's why he reminded Lot they were close relatives.

It's interesting that these distant relatives fought each other over land and possessions. And then as time passed, these family ties melted away and they no longer saw each other as related in any way. Keeping peace between nations was not always an easy task - the Bible is full of battles that prove that point.

What's even more interesting is that through Jesus we become close relatives again. The family of God, right? But, it's more than a blood thing. It's a unification through the Spirit of God. We can meet a stranger for the first time and feel the bond of the Spirit uniting us in conversation and action. Giving us that feeling that we have known each other for years. God's plan brings us back to the way family ties should be.