Jesus said to his disciples, I’ve named you friends because I’ve let you in on everything I’ve heard from the Father – John 15:15.
Playing with a couple of nouns in my head
I see the first word lacks life
when it exists alone.
Strands from its name,
like the arms of a longing child,
forever reach towards the comfort of the companion it knows,
shaping the word
A lisped kiss,
with a longing to be complete in its other,
kith is always known with kin, its family.
Kith and Kin
© Lyn Thiele ~ December 2017
Most of us know what kin means, as in ‘next of kin’. But I’ve been thinking about those two words and wanted to be certain what kith meant; its origins. I checked it out and found that it means ‘known’. It refers to our friends and acquaintances. Kin, the more commonly-used word, means ‘gave birth to’, so refers to our family.
As I pondered on these meanings and the use of them, I thought about the way God sees his relationship with us. Who are the ones whom he’d consider ‘the known?’ And who are the people to whom he’s given birth?
To begin with, he knows us all, inside and out! He’s familiar with our foibles and our good habits. Our gifts came from him. He watches over us all the time. So it’s we, not him, who might see our connection to him as different to those he’s birthed. We may presume we’re not as close to him as family.
In the scripture at the top of this post, we see that Jesus didn’t think of his disciples as people who were merely obliged to do things for him, or as acquaintances who might come and go in his life. He chose to call them friends.
We can choose to have friends and ignore our family. Or we can be family-minded and put them before our friends, but that’s not the way God does it. He doesn’t differentiate between kith and kin.
When a man says, ‘Love your enemies’, it’s not hard to see that he’ll have to put his words into practice if anyone’s going to take any notice of him. Well, he did it, even unto death. Jesus’ words from the cross were, ‘Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing’.
His reason for saying, ‘Love your enemies’, was so we would become the children of our heavenly Father. He proved he was the Son of God by loving his enemies. And when he was telling his listeners to do the same, he added this: ‘Pray for them’.
It’s not enough to only have kin or to choose to value our friends the most. The love that God has embedded in our hearts is there to be used…for everyone! If you think you’d struggle to meet the expectations and example of Jesus in this area of your life, so do I. I’m conscious how often I fail to live up to his standard. Only if I choose to let him help me will I be able to do it.
Jesus doesn’t only call us friends, he expects us to call him our friend. When Jesus came as a baby, the plan was for him to eventually die as our friend so we can be forgiven for the wrong things we’ve done, and have a new birth. He wants to have us as both kith and kin. This is how the Apostle Paul put it:
You are now citizens together with God’s people and members of the family of God – Ephesians 2:19.