God's Spiritual Family: Will You Be in the Picture?

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God's Spiritual Family

Will You Be in the Picture?

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A favorite picture of mine sits on a small table in my office. It's a framed photo of my lovely wife Linda, taken just a few months after our wedding in September 1979. Since that time we've snapped many family pictures. They fill our photo albums and dot the walls in our home. We love looking at those photographs, and I appreciate seeing my special picture of Linda nearly every day.

You probably also have family photos that you cherish and enjoy sharing with others. Maybe it's of you with your newborn baby, or maybe your family at a high school graduation.

While photos like these are often greatly prized, there is one "family picture" God would like you to enjoy more than any other. It's not one you can hang on the wall, display on a table or put in a photo album. But it's just as real. What is that picture? It's a spiritual picture of the coming divine family of God.

Your incredible purpose and destiny

The Bible reveals that long before God created the first human beings, He planned to add children to His spiritual family (Genesis 1:26). While beginning His creation with physical beings, God will miraculously transform every individual who loves and obeys Him into a spiritual being (Philippians 3:21).

This means you were born for an incredible purpose. Your destiny is to share in the "glory and honor" of your divine Father (Hebrews 2:7). His intense desire is that you choose to live and serve with Him and your elder brother Jesus Christ, as a member of Their divine household (Psalm 8:5; John 1:12). In other words, God wants you to be in His family picture! (For more on your destiny, be sure to read "The Mystery of Human Existence: Why Are You Here?".)

When you as a child of God are gloriously transformed at the time of the resurrection, you will be "filled with all the fullness of God" and know the "love of Christ which passes knowledge" (Ephesians 3:19). Upon this spiritual birth into God's family you will inherit His very likeness, nature and character (Romans 8:29; Hebrews 2:10).

What will it be like in His family when He raises you to His level of existence? Unlike troubled homes today, there will be no dysfunction then in God's family. Every member of His divine household will work together and enjoy each other's company in complete peace and harmony (Isaiah 9:7; Isaiah 32:17). Can you imagine such a delightful picture? Your heavenly Father desires that you would value this coming "family portrait" more than any earthly interest, activity or purpose (see Matthew 6:33).

God's faithful forerunners

In fact, this portrayal of God's divine family was what highly energized and motivated biblical figures such as Noah, Joseph, Moses, Hannah, Daniel, Ezekiel and many others. Knowing that their physical lives were temporary, these righteous men and women hungered deeply for the permanence of their eternal spiritual life with God.

Speaking of these faithful forerunners, we read: "These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off were assured of them, embraced them and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For those who say such things declare plainly that they seek a homeland. And truly if they had called to mind that country from which they had come out, they would have had opportunity to return. But now they desire a better, that is, a heavenly country. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for He has prepared a city for them" (Hebrews 11:13-16).

These righteous individuals stayed passionately devoted to God even as they encountered suffering and travail. They looked far beyond their mortal lives to picture their radiant spiritual future in God's promised Kingdom and family.

How you can remain faithful

What about you? Can you grasp the same vision? Since God is offering you the opportunity to be part of His spiritual family forever, what choice will you make? If you decide to follow God, how can you remain faithful while facing life's troubles in this age of unrighteousness? The answer should be no different for you than it was for those who came before us in the faith. You must clearly picture yourself in God's coming "family photo" and never allow it go out of focus (Hebrews 12:1).

A physical photo can kindle memories of satisfying earlier times while igniting hope for happy days ahead, and God's spiritual family picture does something similar. The biblical record provides you with prior virtuous human examples. It also shows you how to live successfully now, while promising you a bright, joyful future beyond today (Psalm 16:11).

In looking to the past, you have the perfect model to emulate in Jesus Christ. In fact, Jesus was the Creator who faithful men and women of old worshipped and obeyed (see John 1:1-3, John 1:14; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:16-17; 1 Corinthians 10:1-4). Christ came to earth as a human being to show you not only the path to spiritual salvation, but also how to live a meaningful physical life today. He said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).

Living by every word of God

Your perfect Designer knows exactly how you should live so as to obtain every blessing imaginable (3 John 2). His Word, the Bible, is like an "instruction manual" for your life. To live well now and be glorified in His family later, God wants you to make wise choices today (Deuteronomy 30:19).

He wants you to repent of sin and live by Jesus' example of righteous obedience to His Father (John 15:10). In this regard, let's look at a statement Christ made that explains how you can put His character into practice.

Before He began His earthly ministry, Jesus fasted 40 days in the Judean wilderness. He was tempted by the devil at this time. In the first temptation, Satan challenged Jesus to feed Himself by miraculously changing stones into bread. What was Christ's insightful response? "It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'" (Matthew 4:4, emphasis added throughout).

What Jesus said, quoting a passage He had earlier inspired in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 8:3), focuses on what you can do to live in a way that pleases God. How do you spend your time? What motivates you—spiritual things or material things? Jesus asked these same questions one day as He and His disciples visited two sisters, Mary and Martha, in their home (Luke 10:38).

While Mary sat and listened carefully to Christ's teachings, Martha was busy serving her guests. She was overwhelmed with the work and complained to Jesus that she needed her sister's help. It seems like a reasonable request. But notice Jesus' response: "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her" (Luke 10:41-42).

Your spiritual and physical priorities

Jesus' point was that what is spiritual and eternal is most important. His followers must prioritize their lives properly. It's another way of saying, "Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness" (Matthew 6:33).

A critical element in living a fruitful, joyful life now, as you prepare to enter God's Kingdom later, is to make that Kingdom your number one goal. God wants you to build and maintain a close relationship with Him through constant prayer and Bible study, always obeying Him (1 Peter 3:12; 2 Timothy 2:15). He also wants you to grow in grace and knowledge as you unselfishly serve others (2 Peter 3:18; Galatians 5:14).

Jesus said: "But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him" (John 4:23). You have the remarkable opportunity to fulfill Christ's words at this time (Ephesians 1:18). For many others, their chance will occur after His second coming in the wonderful, new peaceful age of His Kingdom (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:3-4).

For thousands of years the world has struggled under satanic rebellion, deception and oppression. But after Jesus returns to earth in awesome glory to intervene in human affairs, He will put an end to every evil (Matthew 25:31).

An awesome future awaits

Mankind's evil rule, influenced by Satan, will ultimately be replaced with Jesus' righteous leadership (Matthew 24:30; Revelation 11:15). At the same time, Satan and his demons will be imprisoned in "the blackness of darkness" (Revelation 20:1-2; Jude 13). At that moment the world will, at last, be freed from its long, wearisome captivity to ignorance, violence and wickedness (Romans 8:21).

This will also be when God's spiritual family begins to save the world at large. At the time of Christ's arrival His faithful servants, either living then or resurrected from the dead if they've died, will be transformed into immortal spirit beings. They will be clothed in stunning glory and granted everlasting life (Psalm 93:1; Revelation 3:5). They will also be given vast responsibility under Him to govern on the earth as kings and priests (1 Corinthians 15:21, 1 Corinthians 15:51; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17; Revelation 20:6).

Jesus and His divine family will bring magnificent changes to the world. The earth's wastelands will be fully transformed into gorgeous, productive areas (Isaiah 41:18; Isaiah 51:3; Amos 9:13). The nature of wild animals will be changed to become tame (Isaiah 11:6). People will experience God's loving compassion through miraculous healings (Isaiah 35:5).

Humanity will never again suffer the anxiety, cruelty and devastation of war (Micah 4:3). Nations will live in genuine peace as the knowledge of God fills the entire world (Isaiah 11:9). Can you picture it? God is giving you the opportunity to help bring it all about!

While physical photographs will fade, the picture of God's family and Kingdom will never fade away (1 Peter 1:4). Your destiny is to share in God's glory as a member of His divine family on His level of existence. He wants it to mean more to you that anything else in your life. What will you do? Remember, God is creating a spiritual family. And He wants you to be in the family photo!