The Gospel According to Jethro and Elly May

So, once upon a Fourth of July, I was attending an outdoor concert with some friends from church
when an odd woman – let’s call her “a colorful character” –
greeted one of the other church ladies and chatted for a few moments.
When she turned to walk away, the odd lady spotted me, waved and greeted me by name.

As the quirky woman walked away, the church lady turned to me and said. “Oh, do you know her?”

I nodded.

My church friend got a strange look on her face.
Leaning over she whispered, “I’ve always thought of her as ‘white trash’.”

I hesitated for only a moment before leaning over myself and whispering,

 “That’s funny. I’ve always just thought of her as family.”
When the church lady was done composing herself, I explained that as unconventional as the woman was, we were, in fact, related. Nothing I was embarrassed to confess.

Turns out, the church lady had been friends with my relative in their younger years and was afraid I would judge HER if I knew that.

Ironic, huh?

This happens in the church family, too.

All of us think that we’re in God’s “immediate family” and everyone else falls under the category of weird second cousin.

The liberals are embarrassed by the conservatives. The conservatives disown the liberals.

The moderates are so busy hoping no one will notice them attending church that they create their own problems.

One big happy family of God? Not so much.

No one wants to admit to being related to the colorful cousins from the “other side” of the faith.

Everyone thinks their part of the family is normal and any deviation is, well, once removed.

Admittedly, it can be a challenge dealing with members of God’s family who express their faith differently than I would.

I confess I was quicker to own up to my quirky blood relative than I often am with my more colorful and vocal brothers and sisters in Christ.
But, I daresay some of them are slow to acknowledge that they’re related to me!

I imagine that eternity has to be so long because the first couple of thousand years will be all of us walking around in a constant state of surprise. “You’re here?” “You’re here?” “Seriously, who let you in?”

Don’t think for a minute that Peter and Paul would have hung out if they hadn’t been adopted into God’s family through Jesus Christ. Paul was waaaaayyy too serious for Peter and Peter was probably a little too goofy for Paul.

So, what’s my point?

Be slow to disown someone who claims to be from the family of Jesus Christ – even if they wear leather chaps and tattoos, even if they wear alligator shoes and a white suit, even if they reference a different study Bible than you do, even if they prefer hymns to praise music, even if they have a Green Peace bumper sticker, even if they don’t clap along, even if they preach on TV.

In Romans 15:5-7, Paul exhorts us, “May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

It’s not easy but that’s OK. The Christian life isn’t about “easy”.

I like to imagine that my colorful cousin twice removed returned to her group of colorful friends and one of them leaned over to her and, pointing in my direction, asked her, “Who’s the stiff?”

“Her?” says my relative with a shrug. “She looks uptight but she’s OK. She’s family.”

Maybe we should start every day by looking in the mirror and asking “Seriously, who let you into the family?”

“Love one another as I have loved you.” was not a suggestion, loved ones!

It’s the way of work for believers, from now through eternity. Get to it!

Oh, and yee-haw, y’all!

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4 Comments

    The Conversation

  1. As one of those ‘colorful cousins’ I wanna thankee fer takin’ up my cause. 😉
    A great concept I’ll be pondering all the way to Sunday.

  2. Judith Robl says:

    Good morning, Lady in the Loge! As one of those corseted stiffs, I’d like us to get better acquainted. I’ll bet we could do each other some good.

    And Cousin Lori, thanks for the introduction and lesson in what tolerance really means.

  3. Anonymous says:

    When people find out I’m a Christian, they usually ask, “What are you?” meaning what church label do I wear. To these people I say, “I’m not a Baptist but I attend a Baptist church right now. I prefer to be known as “a woman of faith”, “a Christian”, a follower of Christ.” My family is made up of anyone who believes in Jesus Christ. I attended a Church of God (Anderson) for 20 years, a reformation church that preached the bible as the very Word of God. I attended an Assembly of God church for 4 years. Each time I’ve gone to a different church, it’s because I’ve heard God’s call to go there, there’s work to be done–my Father’s work. And each time I’ve found family I’ve learned to love who learned to love me and family who thinks I’m weird. It’s OK because my Father knows what He’s doing with me. God said we’d be known as a “peculiar people” and most of the Christians I’ve met are. But then, so am I. I’m also a Child of God!

  4. tina hunt says:

    It’s really hard to be that cousin sometimes…..