Summary: How are we to treat fellow believers, those who are "all in the family" of faith with us.

*John 1:12 -- for as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.

In the 60’s Norman Lear produced a sit-com that revolutionized television (not necessarily for the good) in its blunt candor, in the topics it discussed, and in its depiction of a dysfunctional family living in New York. The family was headed up by a bigoted, opinionated blue-collar father named Archie Bunker. Archie was rude, crude, and said stuff that others thought but never said out loud. His treatment of others was abominable. He referred to his wife, Edith, as "Dingbat," and his son-in-law, Mike, as "Meat Head." Gloria, Archie’s daughter, married Mike, a hippy, and much of the tension in each episode revolved around the polar opposite opinions and outlooks of "Meat Head" and Archie. And yet, at the end of each episode, no matter how dysfunctional the family proved to be, in true 60’s sitcom style, it became apparent that down deep inside the members of the family actually did care about one another, and that they were indeed "ALL IN THE FAMILY."

A few weeks ago we looked at the Bible’s description or portrait of a godly family, the characteristics of a family that pleases God.

Today I want us to look at the Bible’s description of another family, the extended family He wants each of us to be part of...the family of faith...the church family.

I invite you today to open your Bibles and turn to the first chapter of John.

While you’re turning to that passage, it’s important that we recognize this initial truth about being a part of God’s family...

<>We are the Adopted, Chosen Children of God.

*Rom.8:15 - For you have not received a spirit of slavery...but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”

*Gal.4:5 - so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.

*Eph.1:5 - He predestined us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will…

"Adoption" was and still is a very important concept and carried great theological ramifications in Judaism:

<>It signified Love and Acceptance. -- The child was chosen to belong to the family of the adoptive father.

<>It signified Honor and Privilege. -- The adopted child received a co-share of the birthright of the first born (he who was at one point the "only begotten" of the Father).

<>It signified Security and Protection. -- An adopted child could never be disowned or "divorced," never cast out of the family.

Adoption is still very important and still a very beautiful practice, even in 2007.

It still signifies love, acceptance, and belonging, just as it did in Judaic / Mosaic Law.

But today, if a child is old enough to understand and make a choice, the child must give his/her consent, he/she must be willing to BECOME a child of the adoptive father.

Look again at John 1:12..."for as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to BECOME children of God, even to those who believe in His name."

John is telling us that God the Father sent Jesus, His Son, because of the Father’s God’s way of providing the option of adoption to us.

In a very real sense we could say He made the Jews (those Jesus came to first) an offer they very much COULD refuse...and did refuse, for the most part.

Consequently, they remained separated from God, they remained OUTSIDE the family. -- And the same results occur even today for anyone who chooses to NOT accept Jesus.

SOME chose, however, NOT to reject Him; instead they chose to RECEIVE Him.

And to THOSE God bestowed His favor, and gave them the right to become children of God, members of God’s family.

Note: No one is "automatically" a child of God, meaning no one is a child of God without having made a choice to become one.

-- Sometimes I meet someone who tries to convince me that he or she has ALWAYS been a Christian, as if being born into a Christian family automatically made him or her a Christian. But that’s NOT how it works.

Instead, we CHOOSE to BECOME a child of God.

God "chooses," adopts those who choose to receive Jesus by faith as Lord and Savior.

*John 1:12 - for as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to BECOME children of God, even to those who believe in His name.

And, once we’ve received Jesus, once we’ve been adopted into God’s family, we become extended family members of one another.

Today, our focus is on how we as members of God’s family are to treat other Christians,

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