By Leonard Lauriault: QCS columnist
I like the movie, “Backdraft,” that is, except for material included merely to achieve an “R” rating. That’s really not much of an achievement. The story is excellent without the “extras,” which actually detract from the movie’s value.
Relying on vulgarity rather than standing on the pure value of one’s workmanship is a sure sign of low self-esteem. I wonder if those people actually talk and act like that in real life. I bet the directors, producers, and sponsors don’t when they’re around someone they should truly respect, like their mothers.
Anyway, near the end of “Backdraft,” two Chicago firefighters were in an ambulance. The one that was dying asked the other one, “Who’s your brother, Brian?” to which he replied, “You are, Stephen!” They were brothers by birth and by profession, and since the Chicago Fire Department began, a McCaffrey had been in the fraternity. Now, the younger brother had to continue the family tradition, which included faithfulness to family in life and death.
The book of Ezra describes the return of Jewish exiles to their homeland. For them, proof of lineage was critical for citizenship and property rights and especially participating in the priesthood. Ezra 2:59-63 mentions some who couldn’t prove their citizenship. Others with unproven claims to the priestly family couldn’t serve and reap the benefits until God revealed the truth, either acknowledging or denying their ancestral claims, through one who had a proven right and responsibility in the priesthood.
It’s the same with Christians regarding birth and profession (1 Peter 2:9, 10). God decides who is or is not a Christian — a member of his family (Acts 2: 41, 47). He’s told us how to be born into his family (Galatians 3:26-4:7; Titus 3:3-8; Acts 2:38, 39) and how to continue the family tradition demonstrating our ancestry by our actions (Ephesians 5:1, 2; Matthew 5:48; 1 Peter 1: 5, 16).
Our lifestyle is to be a public profession (declaration) proving we’re God’s children (Matthew 5:16). We can know we are God’s children only by following that rebirth process and lifestyle (Romans 8: 9-17; Acts 5: 32).
Imitating God like this causes others to recognize that we’re his children and, hopefully, make them want to join the family (John 13:34, 35; Titus 2:1-14). Most importantly, though, is that God recognizes us as his children (Galatians 4:8, 9; 2 Timothy 2:19). All the letters, birth (baptismal) certificates, and claims (professions) we make are useless, because the only documentation of our birthright God accepts is the testimony of Jesus (1 John 2:1-6; Matthew 10:32, 33). If he doesn’t know us, we won’t inherit eternal life (Matthew 25:11-13; 7:21-23).
The only way to be known by God is to show our love for him through obedience (John 14:15-24; 1 Corinthians 8:3). When we do that, he purifies us and recognizes us as part of his family (1 Peter 1:22, 23; Ephesians 5:26, 27).
Who’s your brother? Jesus died for us even before we knew him (Romans 5:6-9). Now, if we’ve been born into his family, he’s constantly with us (Matthew 28:18-20), not watching to see if we misbehave, although he does see everything (Hebrews 4:13).
Rather, he’s there to encourage us in life, reminding us that we’re also God’s children. We don’t need to live a vulgar life to prove our worth. God proved that by sending Jesus (John 3:16; 1 Timothy 1:15-17). If we acknowledge Jesus by living up to his family name and tradition, he’ll acknowledge us as a sibling in return, even calling us by name (Mark 3:35; Hebrews 2:10, 11; John 10:3). Call me if you want to join the family.
Leonard Lauriault, church of Christ