We have found a new picnic destination, a hidden gem close to home we didn’t know about. Soon our last gathering will take place as the hot summer days diminish and then disappear replaced with crisp cool apple picking ones. They too are wonderful but certainly my preference is a summer picnic where the swimming is good, accessible and clean, and where shade is available to sit and enjoy the sights and sounds all around. People watching is fun, fertile ground for my imagination.
I have made a recent observation on these wonderful outings. I’ve been aware of this before but currently for some reason this notable occurrence jumped out at me. Most families picnicking are young with children enjoying the day, usually 3 or 4 per group. However, people from other cultures are all ages. These gatherings are bigger. Both the young and the older are present from infants and toddlers, then teens, to moms and dads, aunts and uncles, to grandparents all in attendance.
This prompts me to think of my own family who always include me, even though I am older now, on these summer outings. In fact, I am the former family picnic queen having only recently relinquished my crown to my niece. I was the one who for years threw out the invitation with the proposed date, place and time. Now my niece will take over. Those former large extended family picnics were glorious once a year events we all anticipated with glee.
Families come in all shapes, sizes and colours.
Being part of God’s family here on earth is wonderful in countless ways, yet that final family gathering in heaven will be absolutely glorious! There will be all ages, colours, cultures, and languages. No denominations, no divisions or barriers of any kind will separate us.
When Jesus addressed huge crowds, I doubt very much that he instructed the disciples to sort the people into groups: “kids way over there to the right, follow Luke, in case you get too noisy, mature adults way to the left, go with Thomas, so if you can’t hear or understand perhaps Tom can explain, teens up front and center so no one gets too rowdy. Matt, keep an eye on them”…well you get my point…
So why do we do that? Yeah, I know why and certainly it is advantageous to direct teaching to a specific targeted age group. That has to be beneficial, a best practice for sure. After all you can’t teach grade 10 math to a child in grade 1. We focus the lesson to a specific age group believing it garners better results and provides a better learning experience. I wonder what might happen if grade 10 students taught grade one students the math-just a thought…
Separation does not demonstrate love, caring or sharing as Jesus taught. It is isolating and segregating. It creates entrenched silos which we need to remember can become more and more impenetrable over time. I don’t really think families are supposed to be this way, especially God’s family. In fact when the disciples were trying to keep the children away from Jesus he scolded them. In God’s family we need each other, all ages, all ethnicities, all people groups. God’s family in this world is to be unique and an example. 1 Corinthians 12:15-26
No one is to blame. It’s just how it has evolved over time. It’s just how we do things. Human beings tend to herd with their own, their own age, their own culture, their own language. We gravitate to what and who we know are like us. It’s what’s familiar. Any major city is a prime example of holding these people pockets or clusters in specific areas.
But God’s family is vastly different, or it should be. Let me ask you, are most of your friends church friends? Mine are. They are also in my own age group. I’d like to change that. I’d like to add new friends who are younger. I realize more and more as I get older that I have a lot to learn about the changing attitudes and perspectives in the present world. I want to understand it and the best way may well be to listen to those younger than myself. I don’t want to be an old curmudgeon who just complains that things are not as they used to be, someone who always longs for the good ol’ days. I want to grow new friendships inside and outside of my church family because I believe God wants me to listen to others’ stories and share mine, too. Together we can buoy each other up. I know firsthand the treasured benefits of such life changing friendships.
“So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.” Romans 12:5
“Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love….” Ephesians 5:1
“But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.” Psalm 103: 17-18
God is asking me and you as Jesus Followers to invest in other generations. This is our mandated commission. I’m searching for those new friendships, maybe even one I can introduce to God’s family.