One of the things that is either easy to understand or almost impossible is the way Jesus speaks of family. It's easy sometimes, when you love your family and like to be together with them to hear Jesus say that we are all God's children. But, when you aren't particularly happy with your family, or squabbling with your siblings or aunts or uncles or even cousins, you don't want to remember that Jesus reminded you that you are one of many of God's children. At times like that, you'd like to think that the tee shirt with the saying on it, "Jesus Loves You, But I'm His Favorite", is really true.
But the other thing to remember is this: the brotherhood or sisterhood of humans means we are all related in some way. The person sitting next to you on the train or bus, the hundreds of people passing you on the street in the city or in the mall, they are all your brothers and sisters as well. And remembering that is harder than forgiving Aunt Lily for spilling gravy on your grandmothers tablecloth! Because there are seven million people in this world now. Seven million. It's a number I can't even fathom with regards to people. I get antsy in crowds of 50 or more. I can't remember the birthdays and anniversaries of the people in my biological family. I'm doomed with all these others! Now because there are so many people in this world, we'd like to think that Jesus, in his small town mentality, was saying that loving your neighbor meant just the immediate few in the region. You know, take in the papers for the neighbors when they are away. Maybe feed their pet while they are on vacation. At least wave and say hi when you see them. But I have a feeling Jesus meant more than that. And I'm pretty sure he didn't mean just love the people who look like you. Or act like you. Or even think like you. If that were the case, he would have had probably about 5 Pharisee and/or Sadducee following him around and he probably would have lived a lot longer.
Our sisters and brothers of this crowded sphere are everywhere. And loving them means helping them to find fresh water, get free of diseases like malaria or AIDS, live in a place where there is shelter and safety. We may not personally have the means or the ability to travel to places to make sure this happens, but we do have the means and ability to pray for these things to happen. And when we can, we can give to something as large as Lutheran World Relief or as small as the guy on the street looking for a handout.
So let's look out for our family in the days ahead. Not just our biological one (although that is important), and not just our neighbors in the block (although, that is important, too). Let's look at the family of brothers and sisters in Christ and pray for them, care for them, remember them. 'Cause we all have the same Dad.