Family of God

About that time King Herod cruelly attacked some who belonged to the church, and he killed
James,John’s brother, with the sword …

So Peter was kept in prison, but prayer was being made earnestly to God for him by the church.    Acts 12:1-2, 5 (HCSB)

Family has been on my mind this week. I’ve been praying for two families who have experienced deaths. To say it is difficult in the weeks and months following the death of someone you love is a grotesque understatement. It doesn’t make me a weak Christian to say that in that first year (at least!) the pain and sadness frequently comes unexpectedly and sharply. Family is so important. And as I had that thought – another came immediately after. Family is not defined by blood relations.

Luke shares often in the book of Acts about how the Believers prayed together, worked together and had formed a close community. To me it builds on Jesus’ words as He defined who was His mother and siblings (Matthew 12:48-50). Who are my family?

Family invest time. Life today is fas t-paced and there are so many people and things that make demands on our day which does have only that finite 24 hours in it. So what do we give our time to? Why do we choose to give our time to those things? I have often heard that we make time for those things that are important. It is simple but it is also true. I have been surprised by the people who have made time in their lives to hold out a hand to help or pick up the phone to call or their pen to write a card.

Family invest their hearts. Family do not put conditions on their love. They just love. It seems to flow easily and well from them. I suspect they are plugged into Jesus and make sure they are receiving love so that they have plenty to give away.

Family invest their goodness and kindness. Family want to build each other up. They aren’t about criticism. Yes, they love me enough to want me to grow and become better but they do that in a constructive way with goodness and kindness and compassion.

As I considered these characteristics, I thought of who I think of as my family. Some of them are blood relations. And some of them have come to me during times in my life when I needed support and care – and they were surely “sent” to me. And children have come into my life, becoming children of my ‘heart’ and enriching my life. I begin to see a family of God, given and formed by Him in various ways that produce priceless blessings.

The family of God in Jerusalem was under tremendous persecution. Death came frequently. Prayer was an activity that wasn’t done once a week in church or even once a day at meals. It was continuous and brought the family closer together with God’s strength. We of the 21st century might learn something from them. Prayer together is the best way to lift each other’s burdens and give them to the One who can best handle them.

And sometimes we laugh together
Sometimes we cry
Sometimes we share together
Heartaches and sighs
Sometimes we dream together
Of how it will be
When we all get to heaven, God’s family “God’s Family by Lanny Wolfe

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell, sung by The Hollies


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