God’s Family

Readings for this week April 16 – 20
Click here for a pdf of this week’s readings

Day 1 – A Community of the Baptised

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Acts 2:38

Baptism is often seen as the outward sign of our personal decision to follow Christ, signifying that we are now his, that we have made a decision to follow him. This is true. But it is not the whole story.

Baptism is personal, yes, but it is not an isolated act that only involves God and us as individuals. It is not a private act. Baptism is a corporate act, an act with a big impact. It is the ceremony that Jesus gave us to show that we have turned from sin, accepted God’s salvation, and joined the community of others who have done likewise. Baptism publicly declares not only that we are now joined to Jesus, but that we are also joined to the family of his followers. Baptism signals our entry into God’s community. Just as a wedding joins two individuals to each other and to the other’s family, we are now joined – and thus related – to others who have also decided to follow Jesus.

But obviously we cannot baptise ourselves. It takes others already in the community to initiate us in the rites of community entry, and be our guides as we take our place in the family of God’s people. Jesus said that baptism would be one of the markers of those who were obediently following him. Baptism is a sign of community entry, a sign of commitment to God and to the community of faith through which he does his work in the world.

Questions to Consider
Why is baptism so important? What does the fact that Jesus got baptised say about its purpose and importance?

Prayer
Almighty Father, thank you for others. Thank you that my public entry into community relies on others to guide me in. Thank you for the place I have in your family. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 2 – God’s Family Members

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Romans 8:14-17

We don’t normally get to choose our family, certainly not the family we are born into. We can often choose the timing of when we have children, but we can’t choose what those children will be like. Adoption is a bit different. A child can be chosen, deliberately picked out, and added to a family.  In today’s passage Paul talks about what it means to be adopted as one of God’s children, welcomed as a member of his family.

In ancient Roman times powerful families were occasionally known to adopt children to be their heirs, especially if they had no children of their own, but often even if they did. These adopted children took on the same responsibilities and privileges as biological children born into the family. They had full rights to a share of the family inheritance and equal status with all other children. No legal distinction was made in their status.

That’s just what it is like for us when God invites us to join his family. We receive all the privileges and responsibilities of a child in God’s family – and we also share in his joys and suffering. God’s love for us is so great that he makes us heirs to everything he has, alongside Christ. His Spirit teaches us to call our Father God ‘Abba’ or ‘Daddy’. In other words, this relationship as his adopted children is as close as it can possibly be. It is as if we had always been a part of his family and had never rejected him.

Question to Consider
How does it make you feel to know that God wants you – has always wanted you – as a part of his family?

Prayer
Loving Father, help me see all of your people as my family, all equally loved, all equally welcomed – and help me welcome all those not yet at home in the family of God. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 3 – Becoming ‘God-Like’

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – 1 John 3:1-3

Every family is different. Every family has its own characteristics, physical features, habits and customs – its own way of doing things, of ‘being a family’. So what about the family of God? What are the defining features of the members of God’s family?

Our life in God’s family is a process of gradually taking on the family likeness and being transformed into an image of the head of the family – which is God himself, as revealed in Jesus Christ. By accepting Jesus’ death on our behalf, our relationship with God begins to be transformed and in the process we are transformed too. By allowing God to continually shape us and teach us, we become more and more like Jesus. To belong to the family of God is to be changed into Jesus’ image, and to be part of a family in which the other members are also going through this same transformation process. We shape each other in this transformative process. This process is not immediate for any of us, but neither is it superficial. Our entire being is transformed – slowly, gradually, sometimes painfully – including our relationships, thoughts, emotions, motives, attitudes and choices. Everything. Through Jesus, God has set us free to become like him. Each of us can be the person God wants us to be, and together we can be the people – the family – that he wants us to be. We can be the people God planned for us to be as he restores his lost image in us.

Questions to Consider
When you look in the mirror what things do you like or not like? What does God see?

Prayer
Heavenly Father, grow in me a heart more willing to be transformed into your likeness. I offer you the parts of myself that I want to withhold from you, and ask that you remould me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 4 – In the Family Business

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – John 15:14-17

In a world of increasing rampant corporate consumerism, traditional family businesses and enterprises can seem like a thing of the past, a dying breed doomed to disappear in the face of greedy global conglomerates. Hopefully this will not ultimately be the case, especially when you remember that we, God’s children, have been called to be a part of such a family business. Not as slaves or servants, but as his children, actively and eagerly involved in his work. Slaves had no say in the running of the business; they simply carried out orders. Children are quite different. For sure they share their parents’ work, but children are invited to take part in planning and ideas as well. It’s the same with God and us. He delights in us as a father delights in his children. We still work for him, but our service comes from an overwhelming gratitude, because we know God’s love, not because we are forced into it. He calls us his friends and welcomes us as partners in his kingdom work.

As friends Jesus has passed on to us everything he learned from his Father. Jesus asks us to carry on the work he began while he was on earth. And what is this work? It is God’s family living together as we were always meant to, and sharing that life with others who don’t yet know him. The family of God is a family that always wants to include those who don’t yet belong. The same grace and friendship that God has extended to us is now ours to share with the rest of our human family.

Questions to Consider
What are some of the good things about being part of God’s family? What do you find hardest about belonging to God’s family?

Prayer
Lord God, thank you for family. Thank you for those around me, my brothers and sisters. Make me a better, more loving sibling to those you have called me to. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)


Day 5 – Loving One Another is the Sign We Are His

Silence, Stillness and Centering before God (2 minutes)

Scripture Reading – Galatians 6:1-10

As the community of Jesus’ followers we always need to be reaching out to others. But there’s also a place for doing good things for those who share in the family with us. Our Christian brothers and sisters are not a better class of person than those who don’t yet follow Christ. ‘Looking out for our own’ isn’t more important than welcoming new people. We show love in our actions to each other for two related reasons. Jesus called us to love one another. By loving each other we show that we are our Father’s children, living in obedience to him. We have to learn to love each other in the same way Jesus loves us. Copying his example is part of being in his family. To say you are one of his followers and ignore his instruction to love others is impossible. Jesus said that the world would know who his followers were by their love, that is, by the way they treated each other on a daily basis.

Secondly, looking after and caring for each other maintains the health of the community and our ability to reach out beyond ourselves to those in need. Love begins at home. Though we never exist solely for ourselves, caring for the community of those who belong to God is where we learn how to welcome others in. When we know how to love each other, despite our faults, we can show the same love to others. Our love for each other identifies us as people who follow Christ. It’s natural for the love that we each receive from Jesus to be turned outward and shared with others who also follow him.

Questions to Consider
How can you show love in a practical way this week to someone in your community? How would Jesus show love to that person?

Prayer
Lord God, may our love for each other be a sign of your love for all. May our love be a drawing force for those who don’t yet know you, Amen.

Conclude with Silence (2 minutes)