My Father has a large heart. A heart as large as his human limitations permit him. I grew up in my father’s house living in the midst of cousins and uncles and indefinable relations. So even though I had only three biological siblings, I grew up in one big family. I didn’t experience the nuclear family setting, there was just no room for it, and don’t ask how many of us lived in the house, because I can’t tell. I can’t tell the number of permanent residents and neither can I tell the number of those who come around and are introduced as such and such, the child of so and so. I never really wondered why we were so many, or why dad was so benevolent when I was a child, because, I enjoyed the fun moments that come with the large number, but in recent time, at my grandmother’s funeral service, I discovered that behind all the one big family scene I see, was a mother who had only one financial principle to pass down to her son, a principle not found in the Financial textbooks of the Ivy League: “Give”. She was instrumental in populating the big family. But even though I didn’t see the behind the scenes woman, I see the onscreen woman, his wife who has a supportive and a larger heart. And so it was, with these characters in place, that the stage was set for “One Big Family”.
The constituents of the “One Big Family” came in different shapes, sizes, colors and character. Even though we all mostly got along and had a lot of fun times together, there were also fightings and malice and envies and misunderstandings. Keeping one big family is quite challenging as you might suppose, so even though the man in charge has a large heart, if there was to be order, he had to deal appropriately with misdoings among those under his care, he brought them together by himself and sometimes, a member brings someone else along. It was tough, but dad is my hero in settling disputes and meting out judgments or punishments as the case demanded. Even if one’s family is not so big, there are bound to be contentions, misunderstandings and the likes, thus one cannot expect anything less in a big family.
I learnt many things being a part of this big family, I could share a few tips in case you find yourself in one. One of the things I learnt is that the only way to maintain your happiness is to learn to forgive, because, believe me, you’ll also need to be forgiven one day. I also realized that, those who brought us together with their means and resources did it, not because they had to or because they were men-pleasers, but for the sake of love. So, I must also learn to love, because we don’t get to choose our relations, we only choose our friends.
As the years rolled by, those who really belonged to the big family not just in body, but in heart and soul were revealed. Many of them now run their own families or are single and independent, but the big family still exists today, consisting of members by choice, those who choose to still belong to the big family. Though separated by geographical barriers, we are bound by chains of love. We remember the times we cried together and laughed together, and know in our heart of hearts that we belong to “One Big Family”.
The Human race is “One Big Family”, and God, the creator of mankind, the Father of this Big Family has a large heart, a heart as large as His divine limitations permit Him. The constituents of God’s big family also come in different shapes, sizes, color and character. Among them you find hatred and sometimes you find love. Scattered upon the face of the earth, some of them don’t even recognize the headship of God as the Father of this family to which they belong, others recognize Him but are not loyal to Him, while some others are completely loyal to Him, all by each man’s choice.
God created mankind with the intent that mankind will multiply into one big family that will be loyal to Him, He commanded them saying “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28). This command came before man sinned, after he was deceived by the adversary. After the pollution of sin came in, mankind still multiplied, but God saw that his big Family is becoming too polluted, He “saw that the wickedness of man was great on earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” (Gen. 6:5). This posed danger to God’s plan to redeem His Big Family from damnation which he announced in Genesis chapter three verse fifteen, if every man on earth became corrupt, from whom would the seed that would redeem humanity come? But a man named Noah found favor in God’s sight and He was chosen to warn the members of God’s family to repent, and be loyal to God, for one hundred and twenty years he preached, but he succeeded in saving his family only. Painful it was, God destroyed the unrepentant men with the flood. His large heart had been stretched to the limit, He could only take so much, He said “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever”. (Gen. 6 – 8).
God has the toughest job in the universe, being a God of grace and mercy and at the same time a God of justice, the demands for these attributes seem to be at a competition. God wants to execute judgment, but His attributes of mercy and grace restrain Him and tell Him to wait a little while (maybe a hundred and twenty years); in one place the bible says “our God is a consuming fire” in another place it says “it is of the Lord’s mercies that we are not consumed”; so God’s mercies must have been stretched to the limit, when He destroyed the earth with flood.
After the flood, God still will not relent in His plan, that mankind should multiply into one big family, He gave the command again to Noah and his sons after the flood: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Gen. 9:1,7). But since the power to choose sides to which one would be loyal, whether to the adversary or to God, resides with mankind, some still chose to be loyal to God, while others pledged their loyalty to the adversary, God decided to have a model child on earth, one through whom the seed would come who would mend the broken relationship between God and mankind, thus, He established His covenant with a man named Abraham, from whom a people who God referred to as His firstborn came (see Exodus 4:22). Humanity was still God’s big family, but Israel was His firstborn from whom He expected absolute loyalty. He would tell Israel how to live so that they might be a model to His other children in the Big family, and most importantly, that they may bring forth the child—Jesus Christ—who would save the lost children, that once again, the whole of humanity would have a chance at being loyal to God. And the Apostle Paul under inspiration says it thus: “in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” (Gal. 3:14).
God is “One God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Eph. 4:6). He has “One Big Family” even though some who belong to this Family in body do not belong in their heart, because their loyalty is not completely with God. But a time will come when God will come and harvest the true members of His Big Family, people who are loyal to Him. But “until the harvest” (see Matt. 13: 18-30) all of us will be here together, as brothers and sisters, who belong to one big family, not by our own choice, but by circumstance. While we are here until the harvest, there’s bound to be hate, and love (if you get lucky), war and peace, wickedness and kindness, sadness and joy, and ethnic or racial prejudice among us, even though we belong to one big family, because the adversary who started all these is still among us and has blinded our eyes from seeing that we are brothers and sister.
But in the midst of all these, God is preparing a people who would allow themselves to be recreated into beings fit to be gathered into God’s Big Family which is to be, after the harvest. The Word of God says “Don’t copy the behavior of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (Rom. 12:2 NLT). God has a people on earth, who by Faith in God through Jesus Christ, are members of God’s Big Family who will reign with Him eternally. These people, though separated by geographical barriers are bound by their Faith in Christ Jesus, submitting daily to God through prayer and the study of God’s Word and allowing themselves to be transformed into people fit to occupy God’s kingdom for eternity. God wishes that as many as possible would be members of His Big family, but He would not force anyone, because this family is built on love and not coercion, you don’t have to belong, but you should, because nothing else makes sense (see John 6:66-68). So God’s mercy is still at work now which leaves the door open for membership in His post-harvest family before God’s justice does its work. God’s justice wants to cut down the unfruitful tree (unfruitful members of His family), but His mercy says give one more chance, till I will dig around it and fertilize it, and if it still does not bear fruit, justice will do its work of cutting it down. (see Luke 13:6-9).
God is raising a Big Family for a home called heaven, and those who would be there has begun partaking of the divine nature from this world by humbling themselves before God and allowing themselves to be transformed, that they may be fit for service above (see 2 Peter 1:1-10). I read a little book titled “Steps to Christ”, and in it I found these words which describes why those who are disloyal to God here on earth cannot cope in the heavenly home:
“The sinner could not be happy in God’s presence; he would shrink from the companionship of holy beings. Could he be permitted to enter heaven, it would have no joy for him. The spirit of unselfish love that reigns there –every heart responding to the heart of Infinite Love –would touch no answering chord in his soul. His thoughts, his interests, his motives, would be alien to those that actuate the sinless dwellers there. He would be a discordant note in the melody of heaven. Heaven would be to him a place of torture; he would long to be hidden from Him who is its light, and the center of its joy. It is no arbitrary decree on the part of God that excludes the wicked from heaven; they are shut out by their own unfitness for its companionship. The glory of God would be to them a consuming fire. They would welcome destruction, that they might be hidden from the face of Him who died to redeem them.”1
The Key thought is, am I by my daily choices being transformed into a being that will be bored in heaven? Or am I, through daily submission to the transforming power of the Holy Spirit creating a being that will be happy in heaven?
The next paragraph also says something really profound, I’ll share it:
“It is impossible for us, of ourselves, to escape from the pit of sin in which we are sunken. Our hearts are evil, and we cannot change them. “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean? not one.” “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.” Job 14:4; Romans 8:7. Education, culture, the exercise of the will, human effort, all have their proper sphere, but here they are powerless. They may produce an outward correctness of behavior, but they cannot change the heart; they cannot purify the springs of life. There must be a power working from within, a new life from above, before men can be changed from sin to holiness. That power is Christ. His grace alone can quicken the lifeless faculties of the soul, and attract it to God, to holiness.”2
It is only through faith in Christ that one can be a part of God’s heavenly home.
It’s so sweet to be a part of God’s Big Family, and if you are, do all you can to bring someone else along, that together, we may look forward to the new heavens and the new earth in which righteousness dwells. (2 Pet. 3:13). Where there will be no more hate, neither war nor wickedness, there will be no prejudice, no sorrow or pain, for the first things have passed away. (Rev. 21).
But before this, God’s judgment will come upon the earth to destroy sin and sinners, Peter says “the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up. Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be destroyed by burning, and the elements will melt with intense heat! But according to His promise, we are looking for new heavens and a new earth, in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you look for these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, spotless and blameless.” (2 Pet. 3:10-14).
Though, for His mercy’s sake, the good God lingers, “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” but “yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come and will not delay”. God is coming to gather people who are loyal to Him to make up His final “One Big Family”, and these are those who love God (with all their heart, soul and mind) and keep His commandments and are found in Him, not having a righteousness of their own derived from the Law, but that which is through Faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of Faith. (John 14:15; Phil. 3:9).
As long as we are in the pre-harvest season, there’s always room for one more in God’s post-harvest home. But, that choice has to be made by man, God said in Deuteronomy chapter thirty verse nineteen “I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live”.
1,2. Ellen G. White, Steps to Christ. Ellen G. White Writings, Complete Published Edition, 2007. Ellen G White® Estate, Inc.