Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Us and Them - Ephesians 3 (part 1)

Click banner to read Ephesians 3
God's power is unlimited. It is especially unlimited by our prejudices, our hatreds, or hostility to and among our fellow humans. As it says in Ephesians chapter 2, in verse 14,

For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility…

From God's end, there is absolutely nothing that can come between us and him, through Christ. By the same faith, there is now nothing that can need even the most separated peoples from one another. By faith, we are free to love and serve and be loved and served together as brothers and sisters of our new adopted family.

That's immeasurably more than we are able to ask or think or even imagine. We are free, free, free.

Ephesians 3:6
This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

Everyone is now able to receive the good grace of God, the gift to be fully received by God, and the power to live as he intended, no matter who they are, where they've come from, or what they've done. The most unlikely and outside person can share in deep community with the insider religious person who's lived their whole life serving God. In Christ, both stand before God equally redeemed, and equally free.

Ephesians 3:17b-19
that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

I pray that the love you walk in and experience in God together, as you share this common life with others, and see how big God's love can be through his presence in their life, will open your eye to just how huge his love really is. If he can love those people around you, even in their imperfections, surely he can love you. As you get to really know this, I hope you get to really know even how much bigger than knowing is this love. I pray that you would receive it in all its' fullness, getting every last drop of this incredible love that he is so willing to pour into and all over you.

Ephesians 3:20-21
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.

All glory to God who would love even his enemies, even us, who would love even our enemies, who would love us through our enemies, and our enemies through us, who would make us family, who would redeem the irredeemable and love the unloveable, who would make even scoundrels like us into supernatural ministers of grace, who would give us the desire to be such ministers, despite ourselves, and would choose to use this motley crew to spread his message of reconciliation to the world. All glory to him who can do even more than this through us, of all people, even more than we ever thought possible, and more than we can imagine as possible now. For now and for all eternity, may this new family on earth be the best reflection of this God of love, pointing all praise and glory toward him through these lives and relationships he's graciously restored. Glory to him for all who came before us and shared this good news with us. Glory to him for all who will hear this message from us and also be restored, forever and ever. Yes!

As I participate in the love Jesus has for my neighbours, my roots in his love will grow deeper and stronger, enabling me to understand and express that love even more fully and authentically.

My love is limited. God's love is not. I want my ability to love and serve humanity to be expanded. I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus in the world, bringing glory to God for how we, the church, bless the world.

The story of Jesus is reconciliation and redemption through sacrifice. God want to all lengths possible to pave the way for our reconciliation. If I believe that I am now united with Jesus, and carry his Spirit, I am able to also go to the furthest length to allow for reconciliation between myself and those with whom I've broken relationship. Also, I can minister this reconciliation to others and in the world.

The Bible says that Jesus died for us while we were still sinners. It also calls us enemies of God before redemption. However, the story of Jesus is that he did not treat us as enemies, or according to our sin, but in love he instead took all the hostility between us into himself, the wrath of God, and the wrath of man, and overcame it. He restored us to God, but he also restored humanity to one another, even breaking down the wall between those who were once religious "insiders" and pagan "outsiders".

I love hero stories. I like the story where good people triumph over people who do evil, where justice is served. But this story isn't like that. In this story of reconciliation, the enemies are treated as friends and brothers, and in that sacrificial love redemption occurs. So, despite my temptation to do otherwise, I will no longer frame my stories of conflict into heroes and villains. I will encourage and seek reconciliation, grieving even for the black and stony heart of even the most oppressive and evil actor in a conflict. I will appeal to God's love for the common humanity of every person, First Nations or Police Officer, Squatter or Landowner, Palestinian or Israeli Defense Force. All are marked with the Imago Dei, the Image of God. As I seek to speak and minister reconciliation personally and globally, I will communicate in my speech and actions God's desire to see both the oppressed and the oppressor freed from oppression, for both are bound. I will stretch my faith to believe that God's love can reach as far as to forgive those whom I perceive to be an enemy. I will humbly ask him to do so through me.


v6 - Paul's favourite good news is that the gospel is for the Gentiles also. This is the ultimate image of grace of God.
Click the image above to read the entire series from Ephesians
You should probably read this one, too.

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