One of life’s most difficult obstacles can be the family we come from. There are many choices we make in life, but choosing our family is not one of them. Some people, and I happen to be one of them, come from a long line of God-seeking ancestors. It is within our legacy and has become our heritage to carry on the banner of Christ. However, there are those whose family story isn’t quite so ideal.
Some families can be ungodly, toxic, or even downright harmful. So how do we overcome the ungodly environments we may have been raised in? How do we break out of a cycle of hurt, disappointment and fear? You can start by embracing these three blessings:
You may not have chosen your family, but God chose you to be in his.
“God chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world” (Ephesians 1:4).
No matter what your circumstances are, God chose you. He chose you over an unbroken relationship with his own son! Whether you have been abandoned physically or emotionally, you are select; chosen by the creator of the universe. He paid dearly to be reconciled and reunited with you.
You are made brand new when you are in Christ Jesus.
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
When you choose God and his kingdom, your past is wiped clean. The more you meditate on his great love, and the extent to which he expressed that love for you, the more the effects of your past can be healed.
“In Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” (Galatians 3:26).
“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God—" (John 1:12).
Our faith makes us his child. Our genealogy changes once we choose him. And he is the ultimate parent!
Overcoming our childhood environment can be very difficult. Embracing these blessings is a good start because they affirm our identity in Christ. But as Christians, we have another advantage. God’s Word instructs us in how to be whole and healthy human beings and members of our new spiritual family.
How do we better identify with our spiritual family?
Through the truth of his Word
In the Living Bible says, “And it was a happy day for him when he gave us our new lives through the truth of his Word, and we became, as it were, the first children in his new family” (James 1:18).
According to this scripture, we have new lives through the truth of God's Word. There are two systems on planet earth: the world’s system and God’s system. God explains how those who choose to identify with him should live by his instruction book, the Bible. We experience “new life” when we identify with God's family creed.
By submitting to the guidance the Holy Spirit
“For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, "Abba! Father!" The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God,…” (Romans 8:15-16).
We are to allow the Spirit of God to lead us. It is easy to let our emotions and desires determine our decisions. Culture also puts pressure on us to go with the flow of what is current and relevant. However, our steps are to be directed by the Lord. After all, we are his children. We should look and act like him.
By following God’s example
“Follow God's example, therefore, as dearly loved children” (Ephesians 5:1).
Children love to imitate their parents! How often do we see a toddler pretending to talk on a cell phone, or make dinner? They watch and imitate us. As children of God we need to watch and imitate our Father. It was an overused idiom of the ‘90s and early 2000’s, but the popular WWJD (What Would Jesus Do) campaign reminded us to follow Christ's example in our daily lives.
By imitating Christ.
Ultimately, the simplest way to imitate Christ is to put others first. Jesus not only did this by giving his life, but by giving up his life in the everyday.
“Don't look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too”(Phil. 2:4).
This command has a wide range of applications. From giving up your seat on the train to confronting injustice to giving your life up for another, putting others first sets us apart from the way the world does things.
Whether you’ve come from a godly family who has trained you diligently to be a part of God’s family, or you’ve recently been adopted into the family of God, as Christians, it is our privilege to enter into a new genealogy. In this family tree, God is our father and Jesus, our brother. We can live according to the book of genealogy and family stories which they have left behind for us. We can trade the thinking that has come from our earthly environment and genealogy for our new family creed.
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will”(Romans 12:2).
Living by the rules of our “new house” identifies us with the head of that house. In so doing, we acknowledge our kinship with our Heavenly Father.
Rev. Dr. Rob Toornstra
Rev. Travis Jamieson