We Are: Family In Jesus
It was Saturday, July 21st, 2001 and it was game 97 into the MLB baseball season. The Seattle Mariners were on a torrid pace to crush the single season wins record for any Major League Baseball team of all time. At this point the Mariners record was 70 wins and 27 loses. For the non-baseball fans, this record at this time of year was never heard of.
Through a contest I had won, I was asked to throw the first pitch out at the game that day in front of 47,000+ screaming fans who were all there for a purpose to be a part of something special. I threw the first pitch as hard as a could to make sure I made it to home plate.
Everyone screamed and yelled as the ball reached the catcher at home plate. Everyone was so juiced up for the upcoming start of the game that they would have still screamed even if I botched the pitch (which I didn't). Personally as a sports fan, even though I wasn't on the Mariners actual team, when they won I felt like I won. I shared a great commonality with the entire city of Seattle and that was experiencing their team becoming the single season record holders in Major League Baseball. I could say that day, I felt like I was a part of a family. A family of the Seattle Mariners.
Why do you suppose we all long to be identified into a family? No matter who I talk to, no matter what background or different type of family history they have, without fail everyone wants to identify with a group of people that they can call family. People want to share in something special and feel special. Why is that?
I Am A Part Of That!
We all have friends who describe how loving their parents were to them. We also have friends who have had some of the most atrocious things happen within there immediate families. And yet the commonality is that both of these people you talk to long to identify with a family of people to find purpose, love, community, acceptance, etc. As we look out into our culture we see many of these social "family" categories that we all identify with. For example, democrats, republicans, sports fans, beer drinkers, religious, etc. Everyone identifies or longs to identify with a group or "family" of people to gain stability, structure, acceptance and/or love. People want to feel something. They want to feel special even if it is just for a moment to forget about there personal problems in their lives. Everyone wants to be a part of something.
About 11 years ago I had such a significant moment in my life that would alter my view on the significance of the term "Family" and I would never be the same since. What I experienced that day, changed everything for me. God made me believe the Gospel and I became a Christian. And in that moment, I was told, well now you are in God's family because of what Jesus has done.
Really? The Creator of the cosmos wanted me in His family! Why would He want me? I am a terrible family member. Before this I had so many different presuppositions on what it meant to be in a "Family". I had personal experiences from being a part of my immediate family, being a part of sports teams, to friendships. I experienced great times within these groups and also hard times. But when God opened my eyes to the realities of His family and that I was a part of that, He started a journey that would teach me what being in a "Family" truly meant.
Through this journey, I found out that being a part of God's family was the greatest thing I could ever be a part of. We don't choose this "Family", it was through what Jesus Christ accomplished upon the cross that God chose us to be a part of His family. Even though we don't choose our immediate family, we have a choice like all the rest of this world to choose who we want to be a part of or associate with. Being called into God's family is not the case. He sovereignly chose you, if you are in Christ, to be a part of His family apart from anything you have done.
He changed our hearts. He allowed us to finally see the truth about Him. For those who are in Christ you are a child of God who belongs not just to God but to to the entire universal church (all believers for all times). Together we are God's sons and daughters, predestined for adoption, heirs to God and fellow heirs with Christ. I started to grab hold of these biblical concepts and it completely changed my entire few of what it meant to be in a "Family".
As Christians, we share all these things with each other because Jesus gave Himself and because He gave us our new identity. Our identity is no longer in the movements or earthly families we identify with but we identify in the Creator's family. As Christians, we live on this earth as exiles, waiting until we are home with God. We are excitedly anticipating and yet waiting to be with Him in the perfect city that He is building for us so that we might spend eternity with Him.
What Do I Do Until Then?
This means practically, as Christians we do life together with other members of the body of Christ. If you looked at a family that never spent time with one another, you would say that is a pretty dysfunctional family. This also means we meet together often, to be known by one another. We embrace accountability, responsibility and commitment all the while we are growing in what it truly means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
God has called Christians into His family and while we wait to be with Him forever, He is still with us. He isn't just preparing a place for His family to gather together with Him one day but he is preparing that family for that place he is preparing. This is why we enter into the "Family", the church, to grow together as we learn together.
We all feel a part of something, but is what you are a part of eternal?