You’ve got family you’ve never met

We’re all adopted. You know that right? If you’re a Christ-follower, you’ve been adopted into God’s family, and you automatically have brothers and sisters in every nation on Earth. You may not know their customs. You may not speak their language. But you both belong to Jesus.

There’s nothing more amazing to me than meeting someone from another country and instantly having a connection because you both love Jesus. Even if you have nothing else in common, Jesus is enough to bridge cultures and bring people together as long as He stays the main thing.

We’re all one family. Have you ever thought about that? So why is it easier to focus on how we’re different instead of how we’re the same?

people-crowd-child-kidToday’s verses are Ephesians 2:19-22.

So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. Together, we are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We are carefully joined together in him, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also being made part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.

Family means different things to different people. But to me, my family is one of the central, most important factors in my life, but I’m well aware that family isn’t as important to other people. But family, as it was supposed to be, is designed to be our shelter, our starting point, the place where we experience God’s design.

So what would your life look like if you had a brother or a sister you trusted? What would you be like if you were best friends with your brother or sister? Maybe you’re blessed (like me) and have experienced that relationship. Maybe you’re not, and you’d leap for joy at the thought of having someone in your life like that.

Did you ever think that maybe the person you’re looking for is someone you already know?

That guy you sit next to on the bus? If he knows Jesus, he’s your brother. That woman at the office, the one who drives you nuts? If she knows Jesus, she’s your sister. But it’s easier to focus on the things that you don’t like about them than it is to treat them like family.

It’s easy to jump to conclusions about people. Yesterday I was sitting at Mead’s listening to a guy in the corner go off the rails about how much he hates America and wants to change his citizenship and move to Singapore. And I jumped to a conclusion about the man. That he’s not very bright. But that’s wrong of me to say. He could be perfectly bright and just vocal about his opinions. Fair to say I don’t agree with any of his conclusions, but that’s not my job.

Don’t switch your brain off. Obviously sometimes you have to make judgment calls about people or situations, but there’s a vast difference between making a judgment call jumping to conclusions.

If you’re lonely or looking for family, you have one. You have access to family members from around the world. You don’t have to look very far. There are millions of people all around you who know Jesus. We just need to stop seeing them from the outside and hear their hearts instead.

You have family you’ve never met, and eventually you’ll get to see them someday. But there’s nothing wrong with looking for them now. Who knows, they may be just as lonely as you are.

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Black Sheep

Does anyone know what it’s like to never really fit in? I’m not sure I ever have fit in anywhere. Not that it’s a bad thing. Being different is fine with me. But I know a lot of people who can fit into every situation, even if it’s something they’ve never dealt with before. I’m not that way. I usually end up standing out (granted, that’s mostly because of my own choices in clothing and style and whatever).

One place, however, I have never doubted that I belonged is my family. We are all pretty much alike, no matter how you slice it. Of course, we’re all really odd so that probably plays a major role in making me feel like I fit in.

I’m very thankful for my family. I also know quite a few people who don’t fit in with their families, and I’m not certain how I would cope with that. If I didn’t have my family, I’m not sure what I would do. I mean, obviously, I would be okay because God has a plan but still — that would be very difficult for me.

Why do families do things like that to each other? Families are supposed to love each other no matter what, not cast members out because they have made choices that don’t fit the mold. That’s what I thought about this morning when I read the verse for the day:

Galatians 3:26-28

 26 For you are all children[a] of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes.[b] 28 There is no longer Jew or Gentile,[c] slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.

As believers in Christ, we are family. At least, we should be. If nothing else, we have one thing in common, our mutual acknowledgement of Christ in our lives. But more often than not, we fight among each other and treat each other terribly.

Some of the cruelest people I’ve met are Christians. And, yes, they can be cruel to nonbelievers, but most of the time they’re too busy ripping other Christians to pieces. Why is that? How is that okay? We’re family. We’re supposed to be united, standing together instead of falling apart.

Who cares if that Christian listens to hymns? Who cares if this one only likes David Crowder Band or Caedmon’s Call? Who cares if another Christian only likes acid rock and punk metal and dresses in black leather and chains? Who cares if a Christian prefers traditional clothing? Or blue jeans? Or simple dress and a head covering? If they believe in Christ as the only way to reach heaven, they are family — our brothers, our sisters — and we should work together for the common goal that Christ left us here for, reaching others for Him.

It makes me think of another verse. I can’t give you the reference. I’m terrible with references. But I believe it’s in one of the Synoptic Gospels. The disciples are telling Jesus about some other people who’ve come along preaching in His name, and they’re all upset about it. I guess the disciples thought they had the only Jesus club in town. They wanted Jesus to put a stop to it and Jesus refused. His answer was something like, “If they are not against us, they’re for us.”

Hey, you Christians out there! You people who trust in Christ? It doesn’t matter what your denomination is. And it doesn’t matter what you look like or how you dress or how educated you are. If you believe in Christ, you belong to Him and you are part of real family. And in this family there aren’t any black sheep and everyone fits in because nobody is perfect. The sooner the rest of us realize that, the better.

So stop criticizing each other. It doesn’t do you any good. It certainly doesn’t help the world see that our faith is worth anything. And half the time the person you’re criticizing is doing more to reach other people than you are.

If they aren’t hurting the cause, why criticize? Why try to stop them? Maybe the person upsetting the apple cart is you.