All in the Family
When God redeems someone, He brings him or her into a relationship not only with Himself but also with all the others who call on the Lord. How does He do this? Acts 16 gives us an example in Lydia.
Lydia appears to have been an upstanding lady. As “a worshiper of God,” she had some religious interest, and as “a seller of purple goods” she was apparently an astute businesswoman. Her life probably seemed just fine as it was. And yet when she encountered the gospel, she moved from mere religious interest to a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, which caused her to lovingly use her resources for her new spiritual family.
Here is the life-changing moment: “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” That’s it! That’s the entire process: the Lord opened her heart to believe, and she believed. In that moment, Lydia joined God’s family. And what’s more, she immediately began to serve her brothers and sisters in Christ by opening up her home.
Lydia’s story reminds us that what begins as an individual call to conversion should always move to participation in the family of God. Romans 8:15-16 points out that each of us is adopted by God upon our coming to him in faith, but it also notes that together “we are children of God.” Our relationship with one another is founded in the fact that we have a relationship with Jesus, and our relationship with Jesus places us in relationship with one another.
Just as with a physical family, we don’t get to choose our spiritual sisters or brothers. (If we’re honest, we might like to put some of them back and try again—though, of course, they may say the same of us!) Your fellow church members are who they are based on God’s sovereign choice. It is easy to dwell on our differences, but the most important aspect of God’s family is not what distinguishes us from one another but what we share: that God has opened our hearts to receive the gospel and now calls us to worship and follow Him together.
If the Lord has opened your heart, then you belong to a new family. By no means is it a perfect family, and feuds and fallouts may happen. But Jesus still calls you to love your brothers and sisters, no matter your differences. After all, He loves them enough to have died for them. And so He calls you to place what you are and what you have in the service of this family. How will you use your time, your home, and your resources in such a way that love for one another increasingly becomes the distinguishing family trait in your church?
How is God calling me to think differently?
How is God reordering my heart’s affections — what I love?
What is God calling me to do as I go about my day today?
Love One Another
11For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another. 12We should not be like Cain, who was of the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own deeds were evil and his brother's righteous. 13Do not be surprised, brothers,3 that the world hates you. 14We know that we have passed out of death into life, because we love the brothers. Whoever does not love abides in death. 15Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him.
16By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. 17But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him? 18Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
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