Friday, August 11, 2023

All in the Family

 By Alistair Begg

One who heard us was a woman named Lydia, from the city of Thyatira, a seller of purple goods, who was a worshiper of God. The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul. And after she was baptized, and her household as well, she urged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come to my house and stay.” And she prevailed upon us.

Acts 16:14-15

When God redeems someone, He brings him or her into a relationship not only with Himself but also with all the others who call on the Lord. How does He do this? Acts 16gives us an example in Lydia.

Lydia appears to have been an upstanding lady. As “a worshiper of God,” she had some religious interest, and as “a seller of purple goods” she was apparently an astute businesswoman. Her life probably seemed just fine as it was. And yet when she encountered the gospel, she moved from mere religious interest to a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, which caused her to lovingly use her resources for her new spiritual family.

Here is the life-changing moment: “The Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what was said by Paul.” That’s it! That’s the entire process: the Lord opened her heart to believe, and she believed. In that moment, Lydia joined God’s family. And what’s more, she immediately began to serve her brothers and sisters in Christ by opening up her home.

Lydia’s story reminds us that what begins as an individual call to conversion should always move to participation in the family of God. Romans 8:15-16 points out that each of us is adopted by God upon our coming to him in faith, but it also notes that together “we are children of God.” Our relationship with one another is founded in the fact that we have a relationship with Jesus, and our relationship with Jesus places us in relationship with one another.

Just as with a physical family, we don’t get to choose our spiritual sisters or brothers. (If we’re honest, we might like to put some of them back and try again—though, of course, they may say the same of us!) Your fellow church members are who they are based on God’s sovereign choice. It is easy to dwell on our differences, but the most important aspect of God’s family is not what distinguishes us from one another but what we share: that God has opened our hearts to receive the gospel and now calls us to worship and follow Him together.

If the Lord has opened your heart, then you belong to a new family. By no means is it a perfect family, and feuds and fallouts may happen. But Jesus still calls you to love your brothers and sisters, no matter your differences. After all, He loves them enough to have died for them. And so He calls you to place what you are and what you have in the service of this family. How will you use your time, your home, and your resources in such a way that love for one another increasingly becomes the distinguishing family trait in your church?

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