It was this morning and we had just left the kids at school.
And we (my cousin and her husband, along with my wife’s cousin — the three of them visiting from Canada) were at the club, in the entranceway going in, and he (a Swiss gentleman living in Uganda) was, by chance, coming down the stairs.
And I said, “Hey! I have visitors from Canada. Come, meet my friends.”
It was a funny moment and my cousin corrected me and, of course, I knew right away, as soon as the words left my mouth.
My cousin and I, even, were so close as children, that we were going to marry, (a plan we had all figured out because she was adopted.)
So I made the introductions of these Canadian family members in Africa to my acquaintance from Switzerland, and he left, and then, with my three family members, I walked up the stairs and without hesitation I said, “You know, your family you have to love, but your friends, you love just because they’re your friends.”
Which is to say that when your family feel like your friends, it’s not the worst thing.
This is surely what the point was in the old book of Exodus when it says that Moses and God used to talk to each other face-to-face as a man talks to his friend.
It’s also what the apostle John later recorded for all time in what has to be the most cherished (and avoided) of all of Christ’s commands, the one where he said that his command is this, it’s to “Love each other as I have loved you.” Then, in case there is any confusion of what sort of love this is, he went on, “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Yes, Jesus loved his friends so much that he laid down his life for them.
Of course there are friends, and then there are friends.
I’m not sure I could ever love either my friends or my family that much, or that I’m called to lay down my life, at least not in that way, although it’s not too far-fetched to imagine this happening all the time, in say, war, and although any one of us is called to lay down our life in all sorts of smaller ways for those people that we relate to day-in and day-out.
In either case, it is interesting that of all the ways that Jesus had to describe this sort of love, he didn’t say, “Greater love has no one than to lay down his life for his family.”
It’s one more reason, I think, why it’s not the worst thing for your family to become your friends.
Wherever in the world you may happen to find them. Or wherever they may happen to find you.