By Anthony Casperson

First, no I didn’t misspell the title of this post. I just wanted to make that clear.

Second, spoilers for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 follow. Mostly theme-related spoilers more than actual story spoilers, but I want to be careful.

While the first Guardians of the Galaxy film was about a bunch of rejects joining together to become a team, the second film in the series is about the team becoming a family. With the introduction of Star-Lord’s biological father, the continued sibling rivalry between Gamora and Nebula, and even one character specifically called “Baby Groot,” this theme of family seems kinda obvious.

But the strange, cobbled-together family found amongst these characters goes far beyond that of blood relatives. The connection between allies-turned-friends-turned-family is shown to be far greater than even shared DNA.

This theme is embryonic in the opening scenes when the Guardians are called in to stop a monstrous creature at the behest of a planet of gold-skinned, genetically-engineered people, called Sovereigns. Our rag-tag family of heroes work together to take out the threat when the nearly identical Sovereigns sit back claiming themselves superior (and doing very little else).

And as the film continues, we see that the true heart of the Guardians only becomes known once they have seen themselves for the family that they’ve become. Their jumbled mess of a family is something more, something stronger, than any biological family.

I call this thought “flamily.”

It was the final choral concert of my senior year of high school. One of my fellow choir members and I were talking about the meaning of this last concert. It was an end, a conclusion. (For me at least, he was a year younger than I.)

We talked about our time together in choir. The years spent growing together as friends. Emotions ran a little high. But at the very end of our conversation, I thanked him for the friendship we had. And what he meant to say is, “Hey, we’re family.” But what actually came out was, “Hey, we’re flamily.”

We laughed at the tongue-tied moment. But those words made me think about how “flamily” is a little bit more than family. (Literally, I know. It’s just an extra “L.”) The closeness of strangers who become friends and ultimately become like family can create bonds that surpass truly familial ones. They become family…and a little bit more.

Ever since that day in high school, I’ve thought about how we who are followers of Jesus are like that. We’re called brothers and sisters, children of God, and joint heirs with Jesus. There’s a bond, a connection, that we share with one another. Even though we fight, and argue, and try to prove ourselves better than each other, we’re family…and yet more.

Blood isn’t the tie, but rather the Spirit of God who binds us together. We become more than relatives. And sometimes the family found among the followers of Jesus develops even deeper than DNA.

With these people, we get to see the true heart that God has placed in us. We get to grow together fighting the sin that so corrupts our lives, rather than sitting pretty and doing nothing. This jumbled mess of a family is something more, something stronger, than any biological family.

So when we look at the motley crew of Jesus followers around us, we’re seeing people who are more than allies, more than friends, more then even family. We’re seeing our flamily.