Monday, June 3, 2019

We Are Family!

     I heard a sermon today on (Mt 12:46-50). These verses say, "While He was still speaking to the crowds, behold, His mother and brothers were standing outside, seeking to speak to Him. (47) Someone said to Him, "Behold, Your mother and Your brothers are standing outside seeking to speak to You." (48) But Jesus answered the one who was telling Him and said, "Who is My mother and who are my brothers?" (49) And stretching out His hand toward His disciples, He said, "Behold My mother and My brothers! (50) For whoever does the will of My Father who is in heaven, he is My brother and sister, and mother." (Also see: Mk 3:31-35, Lk 8:19-21) 

    The pastor then went on to explain these verses. There are several interpretations of these verses, and I am not going to get into that in depth here, but one thing that I personally see in these verses is Jesus saying that if God the Father is our Father, then we are the family of Jesus. He loves those who share the same Father as Him just as much He loved His own flesh and blood family.

     I also combine this with what I believe our relationships with other believers in Heaven will be like one day.  What do you think these relationships will be like? Do you believe that you will have more love for your father, mother, husband, wife, or children in Heaven than you will for everyone else? Do you believe that you will spend more time with them in Heaven? I don't. I believe that one of the greatest things about Heaven is that we will have equal love for all of those who are with us for eternity. Everyone will be our family! We will have no more love for one than another. I can't wait!

     Think about these two paragraphs above. If Jesus loved His "spiritual family" just as much as His own flesh and blood family, then shouldn't we do this also? And, if one day we will equally love all believers who are in Heaven with us, then shouldn't we consider doing this now? What if we did? What if we loved, and treated all fellow Christians just like our own families? What if we made them FAMILY? What would the body of Christ look like?

      This being said, I believe one more thing should be added. If we want a piece of Heaven on earth in our relationships, then we need to consider what we will be doing with our "family" in Heaven. I don't know everything we will be doing, but I do know this: everything will be God-focused. We will worship Him. We will long to spend time with Him. We will desire to know Him better and more deeply. Therefore, it seems clear to me that the interactions with our "family" in Christ right now on earth should share the same desire, right? In other words, our chief desire when we interact with our "family" (fellow believers) should be to worship, glorify, and grow deeper in the Lord.

     Honestly, I believe almost every Christian is missing everything I have said to this point. However, I also believe most are longing for it. They know something is missing, but they don't know what it is. Many jump from church to church looking for it (I know many personally). They seek "friendships" or "community." Sometimes they find it in dinners, youth groups, singles groups, senior events, social get-together's, fun days, etc, at their church, but the emptiness still seems to remain. Why? Because what they really need is a taste of Heaven. A "family" in Christ that loves them just like their own flesh and blood family. A "family" that isn't centered on "fun," but on God. (Seriously, you can focus on God, and still have fun!)

     I know they are looking for this, and it breaks my heart. But, how do I convince so many that this is what they need, and are longing for? Have you ever had that moment when you just know what a person just needs, and if they will listen to you, their life would be so much better? Of course, many times we experience this when we are born again, and begin a new life with Christ. We want all of those who are unsaved to know what they are missing, but we usually can't get them to understand. The same is true for this. 

     Over the years, I have experienced the life changing power of having a "family" in Christ. We have shared our lives with each other, prayed for each other, and laughed and cried together. But, most importantly, we have spent time pushing one another to become more and more like Jesus (Eph 4:13,15)(Phil 3:12-14)(2 Cor 3:17-18)(Rom 8:29), and growing together in our relationship with God by studying His Word. God is at the center of what we do together. It has been life-changing, and I am so thankful for my "family" in Christ. I love them.

     At this time in my life, God has blessed me with two "families" (groups) that I lead where we do just what I describe in the previous paragraph. I long for people to join us. I want to grow the family. However, I have had little success. In my own church, I have reached out to what I estimate to be over 200 people. I introduce myself, and spend a little time getting to know them. Then, I share with them what our group does, and invite them them join us so we can get to know them better, pray for them, and study God's Word with them. Over the years, of all the people I have invited, less than 10% have accepted... (Thankfully, others have come on their own.)

     It is discouraging, and being real here, I tend to take it a bit personally... even though my "family" tells me not to. When a classic introvert steps totally out of his comfort zone to reach out to people, to invite them into the "family" and a deeper relationship with Christ, and is rejected over and over..... In fact, yesterday at church, I didn't invite anyone. It isn't the first time either. Sometimes, I just can't face it. But.., I am sure I will push on. Please, pray for me on this.

     Friends, I realize that things in Heaven will be a little different than they are on earth right now, and that while we live on this planet, we do have a responsibility to take care of our biological family, but there is a bigger "family" out there that needs you, and you need them. That is your "family in Christ." I pray that you will come to see this, that you will see them as "family" (just like Jesus does), that you will love them like "family," and that you will grow your "family" on earth as it is in Heaven.

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