Family: Becoming What We Are

Imagine learning you have a sister you didn’t know you had. Imagine the realization that your family is bigger than you imagined.

How would you react if you found out you had a sibling you had never met? Most of us, I assume, would want to meet her. Get to know her. See what you have in common. Learn her story. And find all the ways her story has led her path to finally intersect with yours.

If just yesterday, she had cut you off in traffic, you would have been angry at this unknown person. If she had approached you at the store, and randomly asked for help — you would likely have either just given her a few bucks, or politely declined.

But that was yesterday, when she was just another face in the crowd. Today, you have learned, she is family.

The writer Mark Galli had just this kind of experience. Fifteen years ago, he got a phone call out of the blue from a private detective, telling him: I work for a woman who says she is your sister. This began a journey where Mark and his wife got to know Betty, the sister he never knew he had. They began to share time, and experiences, and memories together — and to make new memories along the way. And as all of that happened, Galli uses this wonderful line that describes their relationship: “We’ve become what we discovered we were: family.”

How different things become when we learn we are family. When you are my sister, or my brother, you are not just another person. You are not someone I can avoid or overlook or disregard. If we disagree, we are still family. If I make choices you don’t like, we are still family. Through the good and the bad, this one truth remains above all other: We Are Family. And we learn to become what we really are.

Can the Church be that kind of place? Can we do the hard work of becoming what we really are? We won’t agree on everything. No family does. We will get frustrated, and sometimes wish we could start over with a new family. There will be times we simply don’t like each other very much. All of those feelings are normal; every family feels them.

But family is also a place where we stand together, even when times are tough. Especially when times are tough. In short, we learn to become what we are: Family.

Mark Galli tells the story of his newly-discovered sister in the context of an article about the racial divisions we see in many churches. And his point is simply this: we are family. Though black, white, or brown, in Jesus, we are family. And it’s time for us to do the hard work of becoming what we really are.

This Sunday, at Fern Creek Christian, we will focus on our calling as family — in our homes, but even more, in our church. That we are family together — family formed by our common identity in Christ. That we belong to him. Are grounded in him. And guided by His Spirit. And because of that, whatever differences or disagreements we might have are secondary to who we are. And whose we are.

This Sunday, let’s celebrate that we are family. And let’s do the hard work, daily, of becoming what we are.


I’m Jeff Dye. After 16 years on staff at a healthy, outreach-minded church, I currently have a ministry called The Paraklesis Project. In the New Testament, “paraklesis” means encouragement — which is what I seek to bring to churches of all sizes through speaking and consulting.

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