Two Similar, but Dissimilar Men
Barrage was a short lived manga series from 2012 written and illustrated by Kōhei Horikoshi. The story is set in a futuristic, yet feudal world, and the first chapter introduces us to two different men of identical appearance. The first man is the titular Barrage, prince of the land and keeper of a magical artifact known as the “Org.” Barrage is a lazy prince who wants nothing to do with his royal responsibilities. He is abusive to his servants and cruel to his father, the King.
The second is Astro. An orphan who grew up on the streets, Astro knows nothing of where he was born or his parents. He had no one as a child. Yet over the years, Astro created a family for himself.
An Adopted Family
Astro took in orphans on the street. As an orphan himself, he saw a piece of himself in these children of the slums and wanted to provide for them. These children needed help and Astro was happy to provide it. He effectively adopted these children into his own family. For Astro, family was never about his genetics—it is about love. Even as Astro’s life is changed after his meeting with Barrage, he never loses focus on the family he adopted. He always strives to protect and provide for these children. They are his true family.
Oprah Winfrey said, “Biology is the least of what makes someone a mother.” This same principle holds true for family. While biology can connect people as family, it is not the only defining marker. My children are my family by genetics and love; however, five of my siblings are my family solely by that love.
I have mentioned before on this site that I come from a large family. I am the oldest of eight and my youngest five siblings are all adopted. My Russian, Kazakh, and Salvadoran siblings do not look like me. We share no genetic markers. We are not connected by blood. Yet, love connects us.
I am their family and they are mine. I love them all.
Who is Your Family?
How can I call this disparate group of strange creatures a family? It comes back to my initial question – who or what is your family? When we think of family, we often think of Mom and Dad, brothers and sisters, cousins. Each of these are tangible family relationships we can see. Can friendship also be family? From a Biblical and Christian perspective the answer is “Yes.”
In the Gospel of Matthew, the author relays a story in Chapter 12 where Jesus is confronted by His family. At the time apart from His mother, none of the His family believed He was who He said He was. Christ then said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?…[while stretching out His hand toward His disciples and followers]…here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven, that person is My brother and sister and mother (Matthew 12:46-50).” As Christians, our friends in the faith are our family and we work together for each other’s good, and the good of God’s kingdom (Galatians 6:10, Ephesians 4:16). Christ’s bonds in His church are stronger than blood family ties. Kinship can be closer than family and Christian kinship, if approached in a Biblical way, becomes your family.
Astro understands this better than anyone as he was originally alone in the world. This disparate group of children were together his family. He loves them and they love him.
They support one another.
They protect one another.
They are family.
Why Talk About Family?
As I mentioned above, I’ve hit on family a lot in these Newman’s Nook columns. Why? We all have an underlying desire for it.
We want to belong. I feel it and I am sure you feel it to. We as humans are drawn to one another in a sense of community.
In her piece, “Don’t Go It Alone, You Were Made for Community” on Christianity.com, Christina Fox wrote about our Biblical desire for community:
[I]ndividualism and doing life on our own is not part of God’s design. After all, God is a community in himself. Existing for all of eternity past, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit have enjoyed the love and fellowship of their perfect triune community. In creating mankind, God desired for us to participate in that community and know the perfect and joyous love the Godhead share.
But God didn’t stop there. He didn’t create man to be in community with him alone. After he created the world and Adam, God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). God created man and woman to be in community together, to create families and live together, bearing the image of and reflecting the three-in-one God.
Scripture is all about community. God chose the Israelites to be his people. “And I will walk among you and will be your God, and you shall be my people” (Leviticus 26:12). They lived and worshipped him together in community. Following the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, God then instituted the church, the Body of Christ as a community of believers. “Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27).
She also provides a quote from pastor and author Paul Tripp, who said, “We weren’t created to be independent, autonomous, or self-sufficient. We were made to live in a humble, worshipful, and loving dependency upon God and in a loving and humble interdependency with others. Our lives were designed to be community projects.”
All of this is to remind us that family and community matters.
Family is not solely defined by genetics. Sometimes our biological family is problematic and harmful. We must remember that these biological connections aren’t the only path to family. Friends can be family. Astro and his adopted children from the slums are family. My adopted my siblings are my family. We as Christians are, together, adopted into one family of Christ.
These families, bound by love, can be stronger than any created by mere genetics. When love is at the center, we can find for ourselves a true and faithful family.