15.5 The family of Heaven

Believe--Social Order part 2 (see Part 1)

The Family of God

    The Kingdom of God (or as it is called in Matthew most of the time the “Kingdom of heaven”) has come near to those of us who have entered into it through faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. 

    But we are not supposed to sit idly here on earth until we die and are taken to heaven. We are to seek to make the will of Christ supreme in our own lives and in human society. What we truly believe about God and His Heavenly Kingdom here on earth will work to improve our society and the help establish righteousness among our fellow men and women.

    Many people realize that the book of Romans, a letter which the Apostle Paul wrote to the soon-to-be-foundational church growing in Rome, is full of theological teachings. But in chapters 12 through 14, it takes a very practical turn with specific instructions of how to put that theological (or beliefs) into practice.

Read Romans 12-14.

     When individuals are born again, we are called to walk in “newness of life” (Rom. 6:3) by the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ. As a result of that, our social order should be impacted for the good by Christians. In the spirit of Christ, Christians should oppose racism, every form of greed, selfishness, and vice, and all forms of sexual immorality, including adultery, homosexuality, and pornography. We should work to provide for the orphaned, the needy, the abused, the aged, the helpless, and the sick.

If Jesus spoke against the injustices in society, in government and even in religious institutions, how should Christians respond to the issues of racism, greed, sexual immorality?

Most Christians have a heart for the orphans. How should our call to respect “the sanctity of human life” impact our view of the mentally and emotionally challenged? The needy, the handicapped, and the homeless? The aged, helpless and sick?

Read James 1:19-27; James 2:8-13*

     James, the half-brother of Jesus, wrote frequently about the practical and social implications of the Gospel. Some people have even called his epistle or letter to the church as “the Gospel in work-clothes.” Christians have in the Bible and throughout history spoken out and acted out on behalf of the less fortunate, the castaways from society, the unborn and fought for the sanctity of all human life from conception to natural death. 

     Christianity and the church was instrumental in abolishing slavery and churches have been the rally location for civil and social rights. Where Christianity thrives, so does liberty, righteousness, truth and brotherly love.

     This Monday, we recognize the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, who was a minister and a Baptist who fought for and was killed for his work to bring societal change and equality. King, like his namesake Martin Luther, were following in a long line of social reformers to align our society to become more like the Kingdom of Heaven. That legacy began Biblically with Christ and continued with the Apostle Paul.

     One of the first letters to be written was 1 Thessalonians. In it, Paul was wanting to know how the church he helped to begin was doing. As a result, he sent his protégé Timothy to bring him a report.

Read 1 Thessalonians 3** on about the report Timothy brought back to Paul.

Read also Colossians 3:1-17*** on how Paul instructed another church to impact the social order.   

    In order to promote these ends Christians should be ready to work with all men of good will in any good cause, always being careful to act in the spirit of love without compromising their loyalty to Christ and His truth.

*James 1:19-27
19 My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, 20 because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires. 21 Therefore, get rid of all moral filth and the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you, which can save you. 22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do. 26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless. 27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
*James 2:8-13

8 If you really keep the royal law found in Scripture, “Love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing right. 9 But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers. 10 For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles at just one point is guilty of breaking all of it. 11 For he who said, “You shall not commit adultery,” also said, “You shall not murder.” If you do not commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a lawbreaker. 12 Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

**1 Thessalonians 3
1 So when we could stand it no longer, we thought it best to be left by ourselves in Athens. 2 We sent Timothy, who is our brother and co-worker in God’s service in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith, 3 so that no one would be unsettled by these trials. For you know quite well that we are destined for them. 4 In fact, when we were with you, we kept telling you that we would be persecuted. And it turned out that way, as you well know. 5 For this reason, when I could stand it no longer, I sent to find out about your faith. I was afraid that in some way the tempter had tempted you and that our labors might have been in vain.
6 But Timothy has just now come to us from you and has brought good news about your faith and love. He has told us that you always have pleasant memories of us and that you long to see us, just as we also long to see you. 7 Therefore, brothers and sisters, in all our distress and persecution we were encouraged about you because of your faith. 8 For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord. 9 How can we thank God enough for you in return for all the joy we have in the presence of our God because of you? 10 Night and day we pray most earnestly that we may see you again and supply what is lacking in your faith. 11 Now may our God and Father himself and our Lord Jesus clear the way for us to come to you. 12 May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. 13 May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.

***Colossians 3:1-17
1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5 Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6 Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. 7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8 But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all. 12 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16 Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. 


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