In our culture, so often when we hear the word neighbor, we think of the person living next to us that we occasionally wave at as our paths cross when we are pulling out of the drive way or grabbing the mail but we usually do not associate the term with family, rather merely as an acquaintance we hardly know.
Jesus call us to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matthew 22:39). The word neighbor in the Greek is is plēsion, which is what the New Testament was written in originally. It is referring to those in our neighborhood but also those who are nearest to us.
The Blue Letter Bible gives these definitions for plēsion:
For most, family is near at one point or another, both physically and/or emotionally. Jesus is calling us to love our family members as ourselves. Relationships are messy. Especially when a lot of people are involved. But there is also a commonality that not found anywhere else. The longevity that has been weaved in and out of memories and years forms a beautiful bond.
God calls us to engage in difficult relationships. To be stretched past what we think we can handle to see how big he really is (Matthew 19:26). Harboring bitterness, envy, anger is easy. It can be so easy to pit sister against sister and brother against father due to the longevity and history of the relationship. There are a lot of opportunities over the years for bitterness to creep in and frustration to form, whether between a husband and wife or the children. Choosing to forgive and rebuild is harder and is worth more in the end.
It is forgiving those God has put closest to you, who have openly hurt you, whether by choice or indirectly. It is loving them. A sister. Aunt. Mom. Friends. Whomever that may be in your personal community. Loving someone who does not deserve it and perhaps does not want it is what love is all about. That is how God has loved us. That is the change that God puts in us. It is the compassion that God gives towards us towards others, as well as understanding for the opposing view. It is new incite and perspective. It is healing.
This song, Healing Begins by Tenth Avenue North conveys this quite well. Have a listen.
This is where the healing starts
When you come to where you're broken
within The light meets the dark.
God can do anything, even fix a broken family and all its relationships. I know because he has been mending and shaping and restoring mine. He is still at work and I am excited to see where he will lead us next.
Praying that God will move in your family and relationships and restore what needs to be restored. Praying for healed hearts and new beginnings. Praying that God will be praised throughout the difficult conversations and each warm embrace. Praying for God to show you what steps to take and guide your heart to truly forgive what or who needs to be forgiven. That you would open your heart and make the choice to make an effort and let God piece your lives back together.
Here's to healing and new beginnings. Here's to seeing God move in your relationships and choosing to take the harder route.