I am the vine, and you are the branches. – John 15:5 (CEV)
Christ makes us one body . . . connected to each other. – Romans 12:5 (GWT)
God didn’t need a family. He wanted one. This is your second purpose – to be part of God’s family.
I have just a bit of a difference in opinion with Mr. Warren in one or a couple of these paragraphs , and perhaps it’s that I don’t completely understand the depth of what he is explaining, but in the first full paragraph on Page 134, he says “when we place our faith in Christ, God becomes our Father, we become his children, other believers become our brothers and sisters, and the church becomes our spiritual family. The family of God includes all believers in the past, the present, and the future.”
He goes on to say, “Every human being was created by God, but not everyone is a child of God.” I do not agree. What I have always believed and read in the Bible (and I have several different versions) is that we already are his children. He is our Father. He created us. I believe even when we are lost and do not have God in our hearts and are not true believers, yet, and some of us may never be – he is still our Father.
When we do believe and trust in God, we do those things he wants for us, such as belief in his Son and what he did and why. We change our lives to serve him, to serve others as he would have us serve them, etc. When we believe in Jesus, we then have our homestead staked out in heaven, and become a spiritual family, but even before that, I’ve always believed he’s still our Father, whether we have chosen to be, or not. He still loves us. He still wants us to find our way to the truth. He still wants the best for us. What do you think? He is our father, no matter what. He loves us no matter what, whether we choose to love him, or not. He loves us more than you can possibly imagine – more than you love your children – more than your parents can possibly love you.
Like I said before, don’t believe in everything you read. Don’t just see things from someone else’s point of view. Seek out the truth for yourself. It’s cool to listen to another person’s opinion and learn how they see things and try to understand them and their point, their vision. You can be changed by their vision. They can be changed by yours, as well. But always seek your own truth. The Bible is the truth.
To become part of God’s family in heaven, is only through belief in Jesus, what he did and why he did it. That is your only ticket into heaven – through Jesus. There is no other way. Nothing else you do or don’t do will get you to that awesome place. Even if you make the choice to not believe and not be allowed to go there, you are still God’s child and he loves you, and he cries for you. He doesn’t want you to suffer. He gives you quite a while here to make up your mind to make the right choice. It isn’t forced. He wants you to choose the best team. Where do you want to be? Which team do you want to play for? You do have a choice.
Mr. Warren discusses “Baptism: Identifying With God’s Family.” He says that “baptism is not an optional ritual, to be delayed or postponed. It signifies your inclusion in God’s family. It publicly announces to the world, “I am not ashamed to be a part of God’s family.”” I don’t know that I believe the same as Mr. Warren on this, either. I do believe that Baptism is an important ritual. It does publicly express before people and very loudly before God that we love God, we love Jesus, we want to follow Jesus and do those things that Jesus did. They were important to him, so they should be important to us. Can you still get into heaven if you don’t get baptised? Yes, if you believe in Jesus and know what it truly means to believe. “Your baptism declares your faith,” Mr. Warren says. He’s right. It is a declaration. It is not the only way. Possibly, it is my rebellion talking, as well as my head, though. Allow me to explain.
All of the years of my growing up, my grandmother always tried to force me to get baptised. She told me that if I did not get baptised, I was going to hell. I always knew that I would not get baptised, only for the fact of her telling me I had to, or else. There’s that rebellion again. Oh, I was extremely rebellious, still am, actually. I’m very willful and headstrong. I admit it. It can be a hindrance but it can also be a very good thing, depending on the situation, I suppose.
When I was stationed at Malmstrom AFB in Great Falls, Montana, I decided to check out several different churches, as well as different services on the base – different faiths/religions. I went to Catholic services and churches, Lutheran, Baptist, Methodist, United Methodist, Christian, and about 5 others. I wanted to see what they believed, how they worshipped, their rituals, etc. I wanted to see what was out there. I encourage you to do the same. Did it help me to find a church/faith/religion I felt comfortable with? Not really. None of them really fit me. People tell me that you have to pick a church and go there. You don’t have to like all they practice and believe just as they do and you don’t have to like all the people. You go to worship. I get that, mostly. I get that we should go to worship. I don’t get that I would purposely go to a church that practices or believes differently than me. For me, that’s confusing. Perhaps not for everyone.
I felt, finally, I was ready and I was also drawn to become baptised. I no longer had my grandmother in my ear and my head telling me to do it, or else. I finally got to this place on my own. I was 25 when I made the decision to become baptised, on Easter Sunday. It was a very special day for me. It will always be a special day. I did not do it because I wanted to go to heaven or feared I would not get into heaven if I didn’t get it done. This is not something I chose to do because I wanted to show other people that I confess that I have Jesus in my heart. This is something that I wanted to do for God and for Jesus. They are the only ones I was thinking of when I did it. I wanted to please God, simply. I wanted to do what Jesus asked, simply. This was between me and the two of them. If you choose to become baptised, don’t do it because someone else is telling you that you should or if you don’t, you’ll go to hell. You are not going to hell if you don’t become baptised. This has to be your choice and for your own reasons. This is something only you can do for yourself. Don’t listen to someone else. Hallie came to this decision at the age of 9. Wow! I did not encourage her to do it. We have always read different bits and pieces of the Bible. She has some different versions of bible (different kid’s/pre-teen versions). She has always known God and Jesus and loved them and this was an easier decision that she reached on her own. She asked me questions about baptism. We studied about it. She asked me if and when I was baptised. We talked about it and why it was I waited so long. She chose Easter Sunday, so we could share that special day with each other, for sooo many reasons. Her decision, not mine.
Go out there and make it a great day. Try to do one small thing to make God smile. Blow him a kiss. Nothing is too small when you do it with the intention of making him smile. Help someone. If you need a list of teeny, tiny things you can do to make God smile, request one. I have about a million ideas of teeny tiny things we can do to make God smile. 😉