Psychologist Urie Brofenbenner defines a family as "a group of persons who possess and implement an irrational commitment to each other's well-being." An interesting way of defining family. . .an irrational commitment to the well being of one another. This odd, yet perceptive definition explains perfectly what family is all about.
Today it's snowing and the roads are less than optimal, but tonight Ann, the kids and I will be packing up and driving 1200 miles eastward to visit my family in Delaware. Irrational? Some might think so. And, after 26 potty breaks, 150 oz. of caffeinated substances and 14,000's "are we there yet" echoing from the back of the mini-van, the trip begins to feel more and more irrational by the minute. But, the moment we embrace our loved ones and reunite, all else is forgotten. Why? Because it's family. Have you ever considered how irrational family love actually is? Reminds me of that old song "The things we do for Love". Love for our family moves us to do some insane things for the well-being of one another. And, to those who are outside our families, the things that we do for love can easily be construed as weird, weak, foolish, and insane.
Musing over family commitment reminds me of God's own commitment to His family. You and I have an irrational commitment to our own families. Yet, in the incarnation we see a whole new level irrationality to the well-being of family that verges on absurdity. In Christ, God did something completely senseless; he entered human history by becoming our elder brother. And, he became a brother like no other brother we will ever know. This brother's love went so deep that he was pleased to "be wounded for our transgression and crushed for our iniquities". Punishment for sin was directed towards the whole human family, no exceptions. And, just when we thought there was no hope for humanity, this elder brother stepped into the story in Jesus Christ and took the bullet, if you will, for his family. The family he came to save, ironically, nailed Him to a cross. And, the Scripture says that "He who knew no sin, became sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God." Our elder brother died our death so that we might live.
I suppose we're all irrationally committed to the well-being of our loved ones. But, no one....I mean, NO ONE has shown more a more irrational commitment to His family than Jesus Christ. From the cradle to the cross Jesus' love for his brothers and sisters was absurd. His grace defied human explanation. His love is so irrational that those outside the family, cannot make sense of it. They see Christ's work as weak or foolish (I Corinthians 1). Of course to those of us in the family, the gospel is the power of God. It's everything!
Christmas always brings families together. It's a time when we are often expressing an irrational commitment to our own families. And that can be challenging, frustrating and even painful. This Christmas as you mesh your lives with your family, let's remember the member of our collective family whose insane love won everything for you and I. As, we become grateful of such love, may we go and model that same love to our friends and families.
God Bless you and Merry Christmas!