When we fully absorb how much God has done for us, it should change us into a people willing to do as much as we can for God, for Christ, and for one another. The will of God, accepted in its entirety, absorbed both intellectually and emotionally, should change how we see life and see ourselves. No longer do we identify with the world made by God. Instead, we identify with the God who made the world. Being devoted to the character described in God’s Word and revealed in Jesus, we identify with that character ourselves and with all who share it more than with anyone else upon the earth.
Therefore, our devotion should bring us close enough to resemble Jesus’ character, interests, and background because we come from the same stock and from the same seed. The apostle John wrote,
Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God. In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother (1 Jn. 3:9-10).
True spiritual devotion honors the Father and protects “the family name.”
Disciples come to feel such a kinship with Jesus that they commit themselves to being more and more like Him despite all the pressure from the world to do otherwise. This, Paul notes, was always God’s plan. “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren” (Rom. 8:29). The Father, in eternity, planned to grow His family by showing them what spiritual family truly is, and He did so by sending us His Son (Jn. 3:16). Thus, by reconstituting our character through repentance and obedience to the Father’s will, we can grow more each day and learn to live up to our Father’s expectations. He knows what we can do. He wants us to do well. And therefore He calls on us to give our all.
Our devotion should bring us close enough to develop the same goals, experiencing similar situations and thinking the same way about life. Paul told the Colossians, “If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. 3:1-2). Born and buried in baptism (Jn. 3:3-5; Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12), we have the opportunity to rise above the carnal focus of time and reach out into eternity. No longer should we thus aspire simply to worldly aims because our family has higher goals.
But more than just seeing heaven as an ultimate end, God’s family sees family interaction as an essential part of our relationship until we meet together in that end. Paul, writing to the Romans, exhorted them,
Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep (Rom. 12:9-15).
Therefore, we should never relegate being a church family to the status of mere rhetoric. It should, instead, become part of the heart that draws closer and closer to God and all that God loves. Thus bound by a deep and abiding love for one another, we can all see life upon this earth as Jesus did and thereby live as Jesus lived in the process. Disciples should aspire to say with conviction, “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21).