For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named.

Ephesians 3: 14, 15

 

Some people come from very large families. When they decide that they will gather together, the planning can take years. Moving an army across the globe can require less in the way of planning and preparation than these reunions demand. Others come from families that are small enough that it would be hard to find enough players for a game of basketball at that reunion, even if skill or physical condition were not a factor. However, in Christ, we all are adopted into a new family. Our belief in Him brings about a change in our relational status in that God adopts us back into the relationship with Him that was God’s design and intent in Creation. Everyone who knows Christ is inter-related and connected together by virtue of Christ’s blood and through the agency of God’s grace.

 

Unfortunately, the thing that is on my mind as I consider the way that God has worked to restore our relationship with Him and to bring people from across the world and over time together in the common bond of family is just how poorly most of us actually function in this new family. We often put out great effort in our attempts to protect and to preserve ideas and beliefs that are secondary or are minor in comparison to the great foundational truths of God. People who claim to know Christ are too ready to seek out our differences as we build protective walls around church gatherings and stand pridefully atop a watchtower that is constructed out of doctrine. Yet, throughout history, defensive walls and towers have seldom survived the assault of a determined enemy. Make no mistake about it; Christ’s enemy in this world is very determined.

 

God’s desire for all people is that we would recognize Him as Lord and follow Him as our sovereign King. In so doing, we become a part of a great family of faith that spans the globe and that recognizes no differences and allows no room for superiority over other people. Our strength for the battle that is life in this world comes from our unity. We gain in our knowledge and our understanding of God as we share perspective and experience together. No human fully comprehends who God is and has a total grasp on His will. When we approach each other with hearts and minds that are open and yielded to the Spirit’s leading, we are likely to learn more of His will and to see a much bigger picture of God’s redemptive working in the lives of people. Like all gatherings of people who have not seen each other for long periods of time, there will be wariness and awkward moments at first. However, as Christ is our common bond, His Spirit will bring us together with understanding and acceptance. In Christ we are members of a great family whose name is God’s Children.

 

They said to themselves, “We will utterly subdue them”; they burned all of the meeting places of God in the land.

Psalm 74: 8

 

God’s word is amazing in its comprehensive discussion of the issues and the concerns that plague life in this world. Words that were set to paper long before anything that is our culture was contemplated by the human mind are still true. In fact, God seems to cry out from these words with a voice that pierces through our facades of confident modernity to reach to the heart of our sinful pride and stubborn disobedience. These words of poetry strike me as speaking very clearly about a great danger that is faced by the body of Christ today. We face the danger of being subdued. Satan desires for us to grow ineffectual and silent.

 

Although there are some instances in which the meeting places of God’s people are set on fire, bombed, or ransacked by people who oppose Him; these situations are rather rare. There is a much greater danger that we face. The physical damage that is caused by the flames can be repaired. Even when the building is burned to the ground, after some cleanup, it can be rebuilt. It is far more damaging to have the structure standing whole and proud if the people stop gathering there with hearts that are attuned to worship of their Lord. When our primary reason for the assembly is social rather than spiritual community in nature, the interaction that results becomes shallow, on the surface, and safe. Christ calls us to come together in a manner that is vulnerable, broken, and where grace is necessary. Christ is not the Lord of safety, but He is the God who brings us to sanctuary.

 

Our meeting places and our gatherings need to be bathed in worship and praise. These gatherings should be times when we embrace the beauty and the enormous variety of our fellow family members in the body of Christ. They should also be times when we anticipate and wait upon the Spirit of Christ as He speaks truth and righteousness into our hearts and minds. Satan wants God’s children to become indifferent and to become passive about gathering together. The enemy is ready and very willing to reclaim this part of our lives. Apathy, safety, and selfishness are the matches that ignite the sorts of destructive fires that truly destroy our meeting places. On the other hand, the passionate love of Christ for each of His people reaches out to us, and it is this love that binds us together in the sort of humble submission to God that builds a fire-proof community of faithful followers of Christ.

If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.

Galatians 5: 25

 

God wants His children to live. He wants us to live it up, to live life fully, and to be utterly alive. Although, God does tell us to change the way that we live from one that is controlled by self-directed and self-serving thinking and uncontrolled actions, He doesn’t mean that we are to spend all of our lives locked away in sober, solitary, and silent reflection. The Lord wants us to live in a fully engaged and totally involved manner in our world. If we consider the way that Jesus lived as an example of the way that God intends for us to live, then we have a powerful model of what it means to be alive.

 

Paul gave us two contrasting lists of life qualities that we can examine. The first includes sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, and orgies; these actions describe the way that people tend to live when they are finding their satisfaction from within themselves alone and from the natural world absent the controlling touch of the Creator of that world. The second list is a description of the fruit that comes from the Spirit of Christ, and it includes love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The difference maker between these lists is Christ, and the difference is made by the continual work of His Spirit in our lives.

 

We are called to live!

 

This is a powerful imperative; we are to live in the fullest and most passionate way imaginable. The direction, strength, and empowerment behind this sort of life is from the Spirit, and the key to consistency in living this way is to keep filling up on Christ’s Spirit. Turn to Him through the Word, in prayer, and in relationship with other children of God. The life that courses through our veins brings about an ever-deepening knowledge and understanding of God and leads us to engagement with our world for His glory. As we continually allow Christ the opportunity to keep us living in the center of His very full life, He takes us to a depth of relationship with God that is the place where true life dwells.