By Riley Nelson, Minister, Richmond Hill Church of Christ
Most families will have a family photo made from time to time. It is an opportunity to focus on the family as a unit. It shows the number in the family, the children and grandchildren, brothers and sisters. It can show the love a family has for each other and the success of that family. Having a family is one of the great blessings that God has given to us. While all these things may be seen by a family photo, how much more precious is that picture when we know that God is also in the picture, and that the focus of that family is pleasing God. We all need to stop and ask ourselves, “Is God in our family picture”?
Most of us are greatly blessed with material possessions. Overall compared too many in the world our entire nation ranks as one of the richest even in a time of recession. We need to keep in mind that all blessings come from God. He is in the picture of all our success. It is tempting to think that we provide everything for ourselves. Some look at the work they do and forget that without God, we would not be able to do our jobs, or even exist. In the book of Acts we read where Paul made the following statement, “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, for we are also his offspring” (Acts 17:22).
It is not a new thing for man to leave God out of the picture when it comes to success. Jesus told a parable about a man who was greatly blessed, but forgot that God had provided the things necessary for his success. “And he spake a parable unto them, saying, The ground of a certain rich man brought forth plentifully: And he thought within himself, saying, What shall I do, because I have no room where to bestow my fruits? And he said, This will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, Soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry. But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided? So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God” (Luke 12:15-21). This man forgot that God provided the rain and sunshine. He failed to realize that God gave him the mind and body to do his work so that he could prosper. Sadly too many are like this man today. They leave God out of the picture, when they should be thanking Him and praising Him for all He gives to mankind.
Family pictures normally are not made just one time, but ever so often to show the growth of the family. Growth is something everyone wants to see or else there is the fear of disease that might claim the life of a loved one.
If God is in the family picture, then spiritual growth is a part of that family. Christian growth is essential it is a must! Peter wrote, “But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever. Amen (2 Peter 3:18). The growth of a child of God can be compared to physical growth. It needs to begin at “birth” and continue for the life of the individual.
We are born as children of God, when we are baptized. Jesus told Nicodemus, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (John 3:3 – 5). Later Peter would write, “Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever” (1 Peter 1:22, 23). What a great addition to any family picture when one obeys the gospel.
Just as a baby must receive nourishment so must a babe in Christ receive nourishment. This comes from feeding upon the word of God. “As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word that ye may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). Feeding upon spiritual food enables us to discern between that which is good and that which is bad. The babe begins to grow, becoming able to partake of more solid food. The new Christian moves beyond the fundamentals of Christianity and is able to “digest” more of the word. This process causes the Christian to realize more and more responsibility as a child of God. What a joy to look at the family picture and know that everyone in the picture was and is a faithful child of God.
Sadly some family pictures are not as they should be because many Christians never get beyond the beginning stages of growth. They are as the types of ground of which Jesus spoke. “And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; And when he sowed, some seeds fell by the way side, and the fowls came and devoured them up: Some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: And when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up, and choked them: But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. Who hath ears to hear, let him hear” (Matt. 13:3-11). Those who fail to grow are “scorched” by sin, and turn back to the world. Those who fail to continue to grow have allowed the world to distract them from their goal of adulthood as a Christian. A look at a family picture like this brings sadness to those who are faithful to God. It is only those who feast upon the word, allowing it to nourish their souls, who are growing properly.
The result of proper growth physically is to reach adulthood and to live a good healthy life. The child of God should seek to do the same thing. The Christian who has grown and continues to grow will be concerned with his salvation and the salvation of those around him. He will seek to do all that is within his power for the Lord.
Whether it is a family photo, or a photo of our success in life, God always needs to be in the picture. This will lead to a happier family and a home with God for eternity. Is God in your family picture?