If It Isn’t Mine, Does it Matter?
I hold this iconic scene from “It’s a Wonderful Life” in my heart. George Bailey’s father is urging the infamous Mr. Potter to consider the desperation of families. He pleads, “These men have families!” and Potter responds, “They’re not MY families!” Translation: since they are not MINE, they do not MATTER.
That’s often the attitude that people hold. But Jesus’ followers could not have a mandate more contradictory to that attitude. “One another” passages pepper the gospel accounts of Jesus’ teaching. “Serve one another, love one another, bear with one another.” It’s all too easy to forget that these “one another’s” were people who were not their own kin and in many cases, were not their friends. What they had in common was a Savior. And something extraordinary happened when they shared a common Savior–they became FAMILY. “Brothers and Sisters,” Paul would write. That brotherhood acts to bind us to one another, to create a relationship that is beyond DNA, shared traditions, or familiarity. That’s why we can be in a church in a different city and be called to pray and join arms and pray with one another. That’s why we feel pulled to help one another.
Today I received a letter from a man I have never met. I know his name, his role in an organization, and a basic concept of his career focus. I don’t believe he knows me personally, nor my wife’s name, nor my favorite hobbies, or my family history. All he knows is that I am a Jesus follower. Today, he wrote a short note and a simple prayer. It touched me. I can’t imagine why he would see me as his responsibility, problem, prospect, or client. He’s a believer, and I’m a believer, which makes us brothers in a most powerful way.
The issue changes from “if it isn’t mine” to “if he belongs to Jesus,”–and if he does, then we are family. THAT’s why Jesus calls us to “each other” so often with our service, patience, forgiveness, encouragement, time, and resources. We are family!