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Inspiration for Today’s Devotional: “Pinkie Apple Pie”
If you are someone’s fourth cousin twice-removed, for those of you who don’t know, that means that your great-great-great-great-grandparent was married to that someone’s great-great-grandparent or vice versa. Considering the fact we all have 16 great-great-grandparents and 64 great-great-great-great-grandparents, that’s not all that astonishing and is probably not too rare in some small towns and communities worldwide. While some people may be a stickler about it, the fact is that’s not a terribly close relation. Yet as we saw in this episode, even the “closely related” Apples seemed to have their points where they found it almost impossible to get along and were at each other’s throats. So when they have a friend as close as Pinkie Pie, they were happy to call her one of the family regardless of what a genealogy book told them.
One of the things I noticed about the Bible, in both the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, is that it’s not very flattering of families. Oh, it draws importance to the relationships of parents and children in many places, but usually only in the sense of ancestry and heritage. And beyond that, families are far from wholesome in most of the Bible.
The first brother ever, Cain, also became the first murderer ever, and of his own brother. Abraham had to abandon his own family to attain to the Promised Land. Jacob cheated his brother Esau twice, and in turn was repeatedly cheated by his uncle Laban. Joseph’s brothers nearly killed him but “settled” for selling him into slavery. David’s family tore itself apart with murder and attempts at murder. Even Jesus was not exempt from consternation with his family. In John 7:5, the Bible reads: “For not even His brothers believed in Him(Jesus).” Whether or not one takes that to mean his literal brothers born from Mary and Joseph or in the sense of “cousins” or “relatives” is irrelevant. The point is Jesus found more support from His apostles and disciples than His own family at times. In fact, one might even go so far as to suggest that the Bible is anti-family; at least whenever it comes to setting anything before pursuing the Christian Faith. Jesus Himself said in Matthew 10:37, “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.” So does it make sense to put any value on family when it seems like it can only be as much of a detriment or distraction as anything else “from the world”?
Well, a few thoughts in light of that. The first one is, as in most situations, to always take the whole Bible in context. I’m not sure Jesus was saying to totally discount family in Matthew 10:37; just to not let it take priority over the Christian life. Keep in mind there’s also Mark 7:10-13, in which Jesus also condemned those who tried to get out of obeying the command to support their mother and father in later years, even if they claimed to do so for “the greater good”.
The second is that there are a lot of places in the Bible in which violations of God’s command occur, and that doesn’t necessarily mean the act was good. Obviously, the ancient Israelites who left in the Exodus put God to the test so many times that eventually that generation was never allowed to see the Promised Land. Those who did attain to the Promised Land would go on to have their descendants abandon God early and often, leading to a cycle of constant oppression by other nations, God raising up a judge to deliver them, and then only to relapse as soon as the judge died. Yet one can hardly argue that the Bible is condoning faithlessness in God. Rather it’s warning against it.
Third and finally, and also tying back into this episode, is that God doesn’t necessarily define family as who we are biologically related to. Now, for most people that is the case, but I won’t be so naive as to say there are not some family environments that are not healthy or viable. However, the “concept” of a family is still encouraged as something good and wholesome; the idea of individuals who are always there for each other, who always share in each other’s joys and sorrows, who are always willing to help and guide each other through thick and thin, and, most of all, who aren’t perfect but work through their difficulties knowing, no matter what, at the end of it nothing is going to change their love and care for one another–even when they’re angry. That sort of family is something greater than a biological unit, in the same sense that when the Bible is referring to “the Church” they aren’t referring to an ornate building with pews where people get together one day a week but rather to the concept of the whole Christian community.
It’s this concept that this episode pushes when Applejack decides it doesn’t matter if Pinkie is in the genealogy or not; she already “meets the standard” of being a family member. I believe this is what Jesus encouraged as well. In Matthew 12, Jesus was told that His mother and brothers were trying to speak with Him. “But he replied to the man who told him, ‘Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?’ And stretching out his hand toward his disciples, he said, ‘Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:48-50)
In conclusion, the challenge that Jesus, and the Bible itself, presents to us is to not simply rely on familiar relations and bonds of blood to determine whether or not we are part of a family. It’s an active process and relationship that one demonstrates through their actions and, more importantly, interactions. My prayer for today is that we all will not simply be family members “in name only” but will represent a true motherhood, fatherhood, brotherhood, sisterhood, etc. with out own family (whether that is one biologically related or not) and that we will also live a life attesting to our own greater “family relationship” to Lord Jesus that we demonstrate through actions and not just titles.
Suggested Prayer: “Lord God, thank you that when we choose to turn to you and accept the gift of salvation of Lord Jesus Christ, you no longer see us as slaves or servants but as sons and daughters. Thank you also for everyone in our lives who has proven to be a “true brother”, “true sister”, or “true parent”. Whether I’m sharing in joy or sorrow, or feeling happiness or anger toward them, help me to always remember that regardless of what’s going on my love and care for them will never change and to act accordingly. Gratefully in Jesus’ Name, Amen.”