Today’s holiday takes me for a trip down memory lane to a rainy, cold Saturday morning almost 26 years ago. What holiday, you ask?
Why, National Daisy Day, of course! It does seem strange that daisies would be celebrated in the cold month of January, but since I was able to find a bouquet at the grocery store this morning I’ll let it slide!
This is what daisies remind me of: March 4, 1995.
My wedding day, along with my bridal bouquet!
We look so young. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into, but I would do it all over again with this man!
Not only did I marry my husband, but that day two families came together, joining with new parents, siblings, cousins, uncles and aunts, and grandparents.
We were incredibly blessed to have eight grandparents in attendance.
We’ve had to say “goodbye for now” many times over the past two and a half decades, and then lost the last pair this past July due to Covid.
Looking at this picture of two extended families coming together to celebrate our special day makes me think of a book I’ve been spending a few weeks in.
One New Family
How much time have you spent recently in Ephesians? I’ve been struck by just how much Paul focuses in this one letter on the themes of love and unity.
In Chapter 2, we read that Christ has made peace between Jews and Gentiles. All believers in Jesus Christ are part of the same family.
For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death. He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us. So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family.Ephesians 2:14-19 NLT
How do you know if you’re a member of the family? Romans 10:9 tells us, “If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (NLT). That’s it. There’s no magic formula or special prescription to follow. Just believe and declare.
The Body of Christ worldwide is not uniform. We do not all act the same, sing the same, pray the same, worship the same, or even have the same expectations of individuals who call themselves followers of Christ. We don’t always agree!
We do not all have the same interests, hobbies, social activities, or expectations of government. We do not all dress the same, or live in the same kind of communities.
But if we believe and declare, then we are brothers and sisters in Christ. We have been adopted as children of God.
“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure” (Ephesians 1:4-5).
We have been adopted into God’s family because of his great love for us. It’s definitely not because we’re so special! “But God is so rich in mercy, and he loved us so much, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!)” (Ephesians 2:4-5).
Paul carries this theme of God’s love for us over into his expectations of our love for one another, which naturally leads to unity.
“Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. He loved us and offered himself as a sacrifice for us, a pleasing aroma to God” (Ephesians 5:1-2).
“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace” (Ephesians 4:2-3).
Because God loves us, we are to love our brothers and sisters in Christ.
As Christ brought unity, we are to do the work necessary to remain united.
What are steps you can take today toward loving unity with and among your local family of believers?
How do your views of Christians belonging to other denominations hold up against Scripture?