Friday, September 12, 2014

Family Matters

     I want to talk about a subject, that is very personal to me.  It is very personal to anyone who has been born again.  I have been thinking about this particular matter, for years.
     I touched on it briefly, in my series "I Am My Father's Daughter."  I always knew that there was something different, something that set me apart, from many other folks I knew.  I soon learned that Christ, Himself, talked about it.  

As a Christian, who is your family?

"A Visit From Grandparents"
Joseph Clark

     Obviously, if you are living today, you were born here.  A man and a woman came together, and God allowed their union to beget you.  Or, maybe, you are what is termed a "test tube baby."  Regardless, the seed of a man, and a seed of a woman, were necessary, to create you.  
     Just as such, if you are in the family of God, you were born there.  Not because you were born into a "Christian" family.  Not simply because you are God's creation.  No, it will be because you have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, and His saving power.  He will have been the one to place you into God's family.

     One can be in a numerous family, biologically; yet, be the only one in that family, that has been translated into God's kingdom.  Just because mama, papa, grandma, grandpa, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, and/or cousin, have chosen to trust Jesus Christ as their Saviour, does not give you the same holy-family privileges that they have unworthily received.  You are responsible for your own soul's destination.
     And, to clarify even more:  no one can merit a new birth--no way, no how.  It is the gift of God, plain and simple.  Upon believing His Word, His Son, His Righteousness, with a truly repentant heart, He is yours!  Not much simpler than that way!
     So, please do not think that by you:  attending church services; being a "good/good enough" person; being nice; not being as bad as "fill-in-the-blank;" crossing every jot and tittle; etcetera; will please God.  It won't.   Only by trusting in Jesus Christ...only Him.

      Now, what does that little evangelistic talk, have to do with the topic at hand?  Everything!  If you are born again, we are family.  

"For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."
Ephesians 3:14-21

     Knowing that it is "...By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves:  it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast..." (Ephesians 2:8,9), I delight that I get to be numbered among "...The whole family in heaven and earth..!"  It is quite the exciting thought, to say the least!
     Yet, there is a somberness attached.  There are those, to whom I am related (whether by DNA, marriage, or choice), who share not this gift.  They are not a part of this eternal family.
     There is no common joy in the Lord.  There is no common unity of the Spirit.  There is no common goal of reaching the lost for Christ.  They are the lost.
     Of course, the divide makes things awkward...Quite a bit!  Again, the apostle Paul says:

"And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others." 
Ephesians 2:1-3

     Prior to salvation (being "quickened"), we were "...Dead in trespasses and sins...Children of disobedience..."  We lived our lives "...According to the prince of the power of the air;" also known as "Satan."
     SO...What happens, when someone gets saved, amongst others who have chosen to neglect it?  You have an alive soul, amidst dead souls.  You have subjects, of two warring kingdoms, living amongst each other.  Yes, quite awkward.
     Of course, the Lord instructs His children on how to conduct themselves.  Even though their soul is quickened, their bodies are not (see Romans 8:23).  Thus, all the instructions on how to put our bodies into subjection to Christ.  (Another point to be made:  it would behoove us, to keep our bodies [and minds!] under subjection, as to not give the enemy opportunity to blaspheme God.)
     Part of those instructions, is knowing how to dwell in the world, but not of it (as the saying goes).  In other words, how to live peaceably amongst men, as much as lieth in us (see Romans 12:18).  Those folks would include our kinfolk.
     Children have instructions on how to behave towards their parents.  God did not designate between lost or saved ones, to my recollection.  Spouses are given instructions, on how to treat one another.  Now, what if a wife has a husband who is disobedient to the Lord?   She is to apply 1 Peter 3:1-6, amongst many other passages.  She can also look to 1 Corinthians 7:10-16.  
     Those bound to employers, or those bound to employees, are instructed on how to behave themselves, rightly.  Any situation in which you find yourself, God has an answer.  You just have to ask.
     Now, I could be "all worked up" over the differences.  I could be despondent, because folks I love are not in the same family, eternally, as I; and just sit there, moping.  I could decide to try to bridge the gap, and compromise standards, so as to be more appealing to them.  Yet, I do not see Christ so ordaining me to do.
     He has called me to love them.  I can look to the Sermon on the Mount, for examples on how to love them.  I can look throughout all the epistles, to learn how to love folks, who have been set at variance against me, and I with them:  simply because of our different fathers, and their hatred one for another.

"Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also. These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come. Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come. Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come. And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning. I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him. They understood not that he spake to them of the Father. Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. As he spake these words, many believed on him. Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free. They answered him, We be Abraham's seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free? Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed. I know that ye are Abraham's seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you. I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father. They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham. But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham. Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God. Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me. Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word. Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it. And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not. Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me? He that is of God heareth God's words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God. Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil? Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me. And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth. Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death. Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death. Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself? Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God: Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am. Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by." 
John 8:19-59

     Part of loving them, is being honest with them.  Part of being honest with them, is living out the standards that God has set in place for me.  How is living as God says, showing love?  It is truth.  It shows them the error of their ways.  Showing them their error, allows them to go to the one who can set them right.
     Doing so, automatically sets me at odds with them.  Do I want to be at odds with others?  NO!  Yet, it is the way things are.  I simply must follow the Lord, for He is my God.  I must follow Him, so that as much as possible, I can live peaceably with all people.
     I cannot compromise, to live peaceably.  In my short life, I have learned that the compromise usually has to do with me following the Lord.  If folks who are not Christians want to be happy, comfortable, around me, then I am usually the one, needing to give up convictions.
     Having learned the hard way, what happens when I do such, I am unwilling to do so, again.  Christ is worth too much to me!  I desire not to hurt the One who died for me!
     My allegiance no longer is to the name to whom I was born, in this earth.  My allegiance is not to the family, in which I married.  My allegiance is not to anyone on this earth.  My allegiance is to my Lord Jesus Christ.
     I am still faithful, as the Lord enables me (and I follow), to my loved ones.  Yet, that faithfulness to them is not to outweigh my faithfulness to Him.  So often, that allegiance has been tested.  Many times I have failed; sometimes, God shows Himself faithful through me.
     I have learned, that GOD is my family.  Any who are of His family, are my family.  We have the same Father, Lord, and Spirit.  Though we all may not be at the same stages of life, we are still all family.  These folks are my "eternal family," as I like to call them.  For an eternity, I will be with God, and be with those who have become His children.  What a thought!
     Are you a part of my "eternal family?"  Or, are you and I going to part ways, not only on theological matters here below; but also, at the judgment seat of Christ?  Will we be residing in two different, forever separated, places, for all of eternity?  Or, will I be joyously living with you, with our great God and Saviour, as eternity rolls?  I do sincerely pray, that it is the latter.

**Editor's note:  I started writing this article, about a week or so ago.  I never could quite finish it.  The other day, a dear brother of the heart, died tragically in a car wreck.  He was young:  just 22 years old.  Their son, their brother, passed into eternity, much too soon for them to prepare to say "Good bye."  His family is quite precious to me, for many reasons.  I would like to recognize them, and particularly this brother, in this post.  Eternity is such a long time, to be parted from those you love, here on the earth.  Please, make sure Heaven is your home.  If you don't know, please talk to me, and I would LOVE to help you know for sure!**

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"Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man." Colossians 4:6

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