I don’t know if you caught the bug of the This Is Us craze at some point during its first season. The television series follows adult siblings Kate, Kevin, and Randall as their lives intertwine. Kate and Kevin were originally part of a triplet pregnancy. Their biological brother was stillborn. Their parents, Jack and Rebecca Pearson – determined to bring home three babies – choose to adopt another baby boy. Randall is an African American child who came into the world on the same day as Kate and Kevin, having been brought to the same hospital after his biological father abandoned him at a fire station. The series takes its viewers to L.A., New York, and New Jersey, with flashbacks to Pittsburgh and occasionally Memphis. But – wherever the action is – the drama surrounds family.
In my opinion, the widespread appeal of This Is Us stems from its ability to connect generations. For example, in one of the fall episodes, the Pearsons are serving up Thanksgiving dinner. Randall particularly loves Thanksgiving, as evidenced by his getting up at 6:30 to make it happen, with Paul Simon’s Graceland playing in the background. Traditions abound, including cheese dogs. Cheese dogs, why? No one knows until a flashback to the ‘80s, when Jack had to fight to keep his family happy after a mishap on the road en route to spend the holiday with extended family. Tire popped … car through fence … we’re not gonna make it to Grandma’s. The family walks exactly 3.4 miles down the road to the nearest gas station. Long story short: a long walk, a cruddy motel, and cheese dogs for Thanksgiving. Happiest. Thanksgiving. Ever.
It’s those traditions which keep the family memories alive: “There’s no one else I’d rather be too hot or too cold with.” That’s Thanksgiving. And connecting the generations explains the life of the family today.
If you’re in Christ, you have a family. This is us. We’re fallen, frail, and fallible, but we’re family. Sometimes we stumble. Sometimes we wear out. And sometimes our hearts break to the point of utter grief. We understand that we’re to be consistently heavenly-minded as we embrace a life of faithfulness to our Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:2), but every one of us knows what it means to falter along the way.
This is why the church is invaluable! Sometimes our situations and circumstances get very heavy. And, when one of us buckles under the weight of life, we are not alone. Other believers are right there to help steady the load. The family of God becomes just that: a family. Our culture, and even our flesh, scream: “Take care of yourself. It’s all about you!” But God sees our lives very differently. Because He loves us, He is ridding us of our natural self-absorption.
Galatians 6:2 is, in many ways, the centerpiece of the Apostle Paul’s instructions to the Galatian churches. In this great epistle, Paul has defended the doctrine of justification by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. And he has combatted a series of popular doctrinal onslaughts against the gospel – including the notion that believers are under the Law. In terms of establishing the proper context for understanding what Paul means in this verse, an earlier verse (5:14) is highly instructive for us: “The whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” So we know that Paul is now explaining how that is to be done in real life – how we are to live out the word of Christ. How we are to love.
Galatians 6:1 is about how I am to humbly and gently seek to restore a brother or sister who has erred, but Galatians 6:2 is even broader in its application. It’s about my compassion and self-sacrifice when I see a brother or sister who is weighed down by a trial of any kind. I’m to be there for him. I’m to be there for her. In that moment, or even in that long season, I become the love of Christ for a member of my family – a member of Christ’s family.
I don’t know if you’ve thought about it before, but – unlike the Law of Moses – the law of Christ is nowhere written down. The exact details escape us, as this is an internal law – not an external one (Jeremiah 31:33; Second Corinthians 3:3). I want to encourage you to find this freedom to love liberating and exhilarating! God knows exactly where you are. He knows exactly who you live with, and who you work with. He knows all of the encounters that will be on your agenda today and tomorrow. And, in each of those divinely-appointed situations and circumstances, CHRIST is going to teach you how to love.
And that’s exactly who we need you to be.
I’ll share more thoughts on this subject in my next blog posting. Please stay tuned.
This is us.