We Are Family

by Cindy Bultema

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought (1 Corinthians 1:10).

Family is supposed to look out for each other, but that doesn’t always happen. My daughter had a bit of a lisp, and some boys on the school bus were making fun of her. They’d tease her, call her names and mimic her talking with her lisp, of course exaggerating. Spit actually flew from their middle-school mouths to my little girl’s face!

She came home in a puddle of humiliation.

I wanted to climb aboard the yellow bus like a mildly deranged mama bear and have a swipe or two at those hooligans, but of course, I restrained myself. (I aspire to be sanely involved with my children’s conflicts.) I prayed for grace, forgiveness, and wisdom because the main instigator was my friend’s son. Yikes!

And the worst part — my son was a witness to what was happening to his sister.

“Sweetie, what did you do when those mean boys were picking on your sister?”

My usually reliable son averted his eyes and lowered his head.

“Nothing.”

Grrr. I wanted to jump out of my skin. But motherhood is all about gulping those deep breaths and praying those “Help me, now!” prayers. “Nothing? You watched your sister get spit on and you did nothing? Why? Help me understand.”

Before he could respond, I kept going (as I sometimes do):

“Honey, we belong to the same family — we are Bultemas. We stick together. Family doesn’t stand by and do nothing when our sister or brother needs help. Family members take care of each other.”

I was trying to teach my son about family, about unity and how to pursue it in our broken, hurting world.

The bus drama with my daughter sparked negative emotions in me, but it was also an opportunity to remember I am called to pursue unity, with bullies and moms of bullies, and with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Unity” is kind of a churchy word, but like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 1:10, it just means agreeing with one another, with no divisions or conflict. “Division” in ancient Greek has a connotation of ripping or tearing fabric, so literally, Paul begged the church members in Corinth to not be ripped apart.

But … drama and conflict come up all the time — can I get a witness? It pops up with friends, kids, siblings and between husbands and wives. It flares on the playground, the workplace, the big yellow school bus.

We can’t avoid conflict, but we do get to choose how to deal with it. Do we make the rip worse, or do we do all we can to mend and heal?

When he wrote his letter, Paul knew the local church in this Greek city was a hot mess of overblown drama and bitter contention. Four cliques had formed — each was sure they were right, and everyone else was wrong. Church members were even suing each other!

I love how Paul writes with a pastor’s heart, using family language. At least 20 times, Paul addresses his “brothers and sisters,” his “adelphos” in Greek. His loving-yet-firm tone is one we might use if we were going out for coffee with a sibling or a friend who had lost their way. “Oh, friend … I love you, but this has got to stop.” Let “there be no divisions among you,” Paul writes.

No drama.

No he said/she said.

No spitting on each other.

No hurting each other!

Instead “… be perfectly united in mind and thought.”

Build each other up.

Gently, patiently, kindly.

At peace.

By the way, the instigator in my girl’s bus drama? With his mom’s encouragement, he came over and apologized, giving my daughter a gift card he bought with his own money. Grace ruled, and harmony was restored.

Life delivers many reasons to be at odds with our sisters (and our brothers). Let’s look for ways to be at one with them instead. Let’s also look for ways to be family to each other, to stand up for each other as dearly loved daughters and sons of a Good Father. Because family takes care of each other, always.

Father, help me see ways I can bring unity and peace in Your Name today. Fill me with Your love and grace in the midst of drama. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

RELATED RESOURCES

The one in your mirror and those closest to you need constant reminders that they are Loved. Period. God is for them, and so are you. You are family! Read, wear or share one of the beautiful items available through the “LOVED.” line! Check it out here.

If you’re looking for ways to live for God in a sin-soaked world and handle each situation with grace, you’ll appreciate Live Full Walk Free: Set Apart in a Sin-Soaked World by Cindy Bultema. This journey of 1 Corinthians touches on themes of identity, unity, purpose, and purity to show how believers today can navigate through a wayward and confused culture.

MEET CINDY

Cindy Bultema is the Executive Director of GEMS Girls’ Clubs and has served in ministry for over 20 years. She is passionate about reaching girls and women with the life-changing message of Jesus. Cindy lives in West Michigan with her husband and their four children. When she’s not running her full household, you can find Cindy walking her two dogs, meeting a friend for coffee, attending her son’s hockey games, or trying to figure out what’s for dinner.

© 2020 by Cindy Bultema. All rights reserved.