Formed for God’s Family Last week we looked at God’s 1st purpose for us, which is to know Him and to love Him. The Bible calls that worship. Today we are going to look at the 2nd purpose. We were formed to be part of God’s family. Paul says in Ephesians 1:5 “His unchanging plan has always been to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ.” The Bible is the story of God building a family--a family that last forever and ever in eternity. That’s the most important family that we can belong to. God wants us to be part of His family. Today I want us to focus on how to live in God’s family. Someone has said that we worship God best when we love each other well. God wants us to learn to love our spiritual family. Fellowship is loving God’s family. “Love your Christian brothers and sisters” (1 Peter 2:17). Why is that important? Our spiritual family will last forever. Our physical families eventually come apart. Loving others means that we are growing to be more like God. He wants us to love as He does, to be like Him in every way. Church is not a place we go to. It is a family we belong to. Church is not a building. It is a family. We were not meant to go through life on our own. It is impossible for us to fulfill all the purposes God has for our lives without fellowship—without being an active part of His family. I want us to look at 4 levels of fellowship. Level 1--Membership: Choosing to belong This is the most basic level where every follower of Christ starts. In Ephesians 2:12-19 Paul says, “You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you belong to Christ…you are members of God’s family.” We are born physically into our earthly family. We are born spiritually into God’s family. We belong to Christ when we say, “Lord Jesus, I believe that You died and rose again to forgive me. I want you to come into my life and make me a new person.” As we come in humble faith to Christ, He makes us a member of God’s family. We are born into God’s family—He wants us to be connected to His family, the church. Some people say, “I am a Christian, but I don’t belong to any church. I believe in Jesus, but I don’t like the church.” But that is not Christianity according to the Bible. Jesus wants us to love Him and He also wants us to love His Body, His Bride, the church. We wants us to be part of a church where we belong to His family. To be a Christian but NOT be part of a church family is like being a baseball player with no team, a bee with no hive, or a tuba player with no band. A Christian without a church family is an orphan. God wants us to be part of His family. “Since we are all one body in Christ, we belong to each other, and each of us needs all the others.” (Romans 12:5) How do we show that we belong to God’s family? The symbol that shows we are part of God’s family is baptism. “Those who believed…were baptized.” (Acts 2:41) Baptism is a public way of saying, “I belong to Christ and to His family.” Level 2—Friendship: Learning to share When the church is functioning the way it should, we learn to share. Luke tells us what the early church was like. “All the believers met together constantly and shared everything.” (Acts 2:44) We can’t develop friendships without meeting together. And part of friendship is sharing. To have a good relationship we need to meet together and we have to share with each other. What can we share with each other? Our experiences. “As iron sharpens iron, a friend sharpens a friend.” (Proverbs 17:17) We learn from each other’s experiences. Instead of making all the mistakes yourself, you learn from the mistakes of others. There is much we can learn from each other as we seek to follow Christ and to live the way He wants us to. Our homes. “Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.” (1 Peter 4:9) We share our homes when a person is in need and we do it to show kindness. We have others into our homes so we can move to this next level of fellowship. It is hard to have fellowship in a large group. We can worship together, but fellowship—friendships—are built in small groups. That is why we have others over to our homes. It is where we really get to know others. During the first 300 years of the church, there were no buildings. All meetings were in homes. Our problems. “Share each other’s troubles and problems.” (Galatians 6:2) We share the sorrow of those who are sad. (Romans 12:15) We don’t need to fix everyone’s problems. We are to share them and listen and have sympathy. “Let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage and warn each other, especially now that the day of his coming back is drawing near.” (Hebrews 10:25) We meet to encourage each other and to share our burdens and joys. Level 3—Partnership: Doing my part “As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.” (Ephesians 4:16) Each person has something to contribute. Your Christian brothers and sisters—your spiritual family— need you. God wants to make a difference though you. He wants to use you. Each one of us has a part in God’s family. The New Testament shows many ways that we can help others. The Christian life is to be lived with one another (Romans 12:10, 16; Colossians 3:13, 16; Ephesians 4:2, 32). We serve one another, we love one another, we pray for one another, we forgive one another. When we cooperate, we get more done together than we could ever do by ourselves. We do it for Jesus. Mother Teresa spent her life working with the poorest of the poor in Calcutta, India. Once she was asked, “how do you handle all the disease and death on a daily basis? How do you do the difficult things serving others?” This is what she said. “Every person I bathe, every person I bandage, I imagine seeing the face of Jesus and I do it for Him.” Jesus said, “I assure you, when you did it for the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me.” (Matthew 25:40) If it is difficult to love another person, think of that person as one created in God’s image. To love a person means to see them as God intended them to be. Think about how you can serve others in a practical way, reaching out to show God’s love. We work together as partners who belong to God (1 Corinthians 3:9). Level 4—Kinship: Loving believers as family Kinship means your closest relationships. When someone has a serious accident, they notify the next of kin. You find the person you care about most, the person closest to you. The Bible says that is the kind of attitude we are to have. “We belong to each other…Follow God’s example in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love for others, following the example of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:25) Love each other with genuine affection (Romans 12:10). We are willing to sacrifice for others. Kinship means that we are devoted to each other like family, completely committed to each other. That’s what we want our church to be know for. And that is what God wants from us. If we want to know if we are part of God’s family, John gives a test to help us know whether we are really Christians or not (1 John 3:10, 14; 4:20-21). If we are a child of God—part of His family—it will show in how we love other followers of Christ. One of the Roman historians (not a Christian) wrote about Christians: “Look how they love each other.” People are not looking for religion. They are looking for a family—a family that loves. The family of God is where we learn to love others. Which of the 4 levels of fellowship are you experiencing? Have you trusted Christ and become part of God’s family? Have you been baptized, showing that you belong to Christ? Are you connected to other believers for growth and encouragement? Are you serving and making a difference? Do you love other believers as family? Are you devoted to God’s family? Are you ready to help others in crisis? If you are part of God’s family, your spiritual health and the health of the Body of Christ is directly tied to whether or not you stay connected to the Body. You have a key role to play. You have an important contribution to make to the rest of God’s family, helping other Christians. Stay connected to Jesus and to His family. Let us keep growing in our love for God and in our love for other Christians. There is nothing more important in life. t in life.
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