Family. The basic unit in society traditionally consisting of two parents, a mother and father, raising their children, which can include relatives through ancestry and marriage. Biblically, a family is made up of a husband, his wife and their offspring; which can include multiple generations. For some the idea of family brings a flood of happy memories, with feelings of love, acceptance and connection. For others family is quite the opposite. In a sinful and broken world, families are not always the haven of love, safety and comfort. This is the time of year when many people, those with positive experiences and even those with negative experiences, think about family. Regardless of your circumstances, regardless of your family history, good or bad, Paul shares something with the people of Athens that can bring comfort. In Acts 17:26 after explaining that there is one God who made everything, Paul says, “From one man he made every nation of men, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he determined the times set for them and the exact places where they should live.” On its face, for those who had difficult family lives—horrible family lives—this can be discouraging. But it is only discouraging until you get the next verse, “God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us.”
Did you catch that? God put us in the exact spot for us to reach out and find Him. I may have had a great family life growing up, you have had a horrible life growing up. God knows and says, “I set that up—I set when and where you would be so that you had the best chance of finding Me!” He was never far away. But it gets even better…Paul tells us that when we find Him, when we choose Him, He adopts us! (see Rom 8:15-23, Gal 4:1-7, Eph 1:3-8). Regardless of whether you come from a bad family or not, no family beats God’s family. Good family, bad family, it doesn’t matter when you become part of God’s family you will never be the same. Jesus tells us that everyone who does the will of His Father in heaven is His brother, sister, or mother (Matt 12:48-50). Family is important. Family shapes who we are, how we live, what we do. But it is not our biological families that make the most difference. It is the family of God that you and I are adopted into that changes our eternity. Maybe it is no coincidence that it is during Christmas time, when we celebrate the birth of our Savior and the hope He brings that we experience such deep feelings about family.