Saturday, August 09, 2014

We Are Never Alone

Ephesians 2:19-2:22
Brick in grass We live in an entertainment culture. People want to be entertained all the time. We want to watch movies, play games, do social media, listen to the music. We do want to feel good all the time and we easily get bored. Sometimes we think that people who comes to the church need to be entertained. So we want our worship service to be more appealing to the people so that they will come back again and again. However, we should keep in mind that attend worship not to be entertained or not to get something out of the service. If we come here for that reason then this is a selfish motive. We are here not to feel good or get something out of the church service but to give our worship to God. In Ephesians Chapter 2, the Apostle Paul reminds us that when we go to the church let us forget about ourself but think about God and the church. So let’s read our passage together: Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. - Ephesians 2:19-22 (NIV)
Many people think that being a Christian is all about their needs. They think it is all about me. Or it is about me and God. Being a Christian is about God, me and other Christians. As Christian we should think we are not alone because…

God has made us part of the new kingdom

…you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people…(verse 19). Paul is mainly writing to the Gentile believers. In verse 12, he described how these Gentiles were excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise. But the point he is making here is that it doesn’t really matter because they are now citizens of a new kingdom that is higher than the kingdom of Israel. For us who lives near the border, we know how important is citizenship. For those who are not citizens, we watch closely the changes to the immigration laws. As citizens, you have benefits that you enjoy. You have the right to travel wherever you want and to choose wherever you want to live and work. Your rights are also protected by your laws. You have benefits that we non-citizen will not enjoy. But you also have responsibilities to pay taxes (although some do not). You have the responsibility to follow the laws and obey your leaders. When we choose to be followers of Jesus Christ, we also become citizens of His kingdom. And that citizenship also comes with privileges and responsibilities. We get the privilege of being part of a body where we can be encouraged and where we can grow in our faith. We get the protection of our King – the Lord Jesus Christ. At the same time, we also have a responsibility to participate in the life of the body and submit to its leadership. We have a responsibility to give financially so that the church can do the ministry. We have the responsibility to minister to those who are in need. We have the responsibility to live a good Christian life. We have the responsibility to obey our leaders.

God has made us part of a new family

…members of God’s household… (verse 19) Again, Paul has already made reference to this aspect of our life in the church earlier in His letter. You’ll remember that at the beginning of chapter 1 Paul wrote that when God chose us He also adopted us into His family. As great as it is to be a citizen in God’s kingdom, it’s even better to be a part of His family. Look at how John described the greatness of being God’s children: How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! 1 John 3:1 (NIV) I was reflecting this week on all the benefits that I enjoy by being part of a family here on earth. Nobody love us like our own family. Our family will protect us if somebody will try to do us harm. Our family will lift us up when we fall. We may have arguments with our parents, brothers and sisters but the family relationship will never be broken. A family is also the place where we experience the deepest intimacy here on this earth. The relationships between husband and wife, parents and children, brothers and sisters provide a far greater opportunity for intimacy than any other relationships we have. Our church is our family in Christ. We should love each one like a true family. We have responsibility to one another. God has chosen us this family to help us grow in Christ. God brought us to this church so that he can use us that we can help each other to be strong in our faith. This is the place where we can develop deep intimate relationships more than any other people outside the church family. Our common bond is our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the strongest force that connect us with other Christians. God does not create spiritual orphans. It is never His intent that His children would be estranged from His family. So why would any Christian want to try to live out his or her faith apart from the family that God has given to them?

God has made us part of a new building

The third imagery that Paul uses to describe our place in the church is a building. The church is not the building but it is like a building. It is built on the foundation of the Word of God—the Bible. …built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets… When Paul mentions the apostle and prophets, he is referring to those who received and proclaimed the word of God. The preaching and eventually the writings of the apostles and the prophets is passed on to us. Joined together in Christ …with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling… When Paul talks about Jesus being the cornerstone he is thinking of the cornerstone that was used in Jerusalem Temple. It was a stone as big as a Green Bus and it weighs about 600,000 kilos. The cornerstone was the most important stone in the building. It marked the point in which the rest of the building would be constructed and in a sense it held the whole building together. But Jesus is more than just the cornerstone. He is the means by which all of the individual stones are being joined together in this building. A single brick is worth nothing, in fact, it is not much to look at. But when we have thousand of bricks and put them together we can build a beautiful house. The bricks do not put themselves together. A workman had to prepare a plan, make it square and they have to be put on top of one another and bond them together with a cement. This is like what Jesus does when he builds the church. He takes a lot of bricks that are not really good and worth nothing on their own. He first them together with other blocks and bonds them together with a cement. Although Jesus is concerned with the each brick, his overall purpose is to create a building that will give glory to his name. On our own separate from the church, we cannot do anything. But if we are bonded to Jesus Christ and to each other. We can do great things for God and we can win more people to Jesus. Indwelled by the Holy Spirit …in which God lives by his Spirit. Most of us are probably familiar with this passage that describes how God’s Holy Spirit lives within us: Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you? 1 Corinthians 3:16 (NIV) At the moment we received Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit comes to live within us. And we all become the temple of God. Here the Apostle Paul is saying that the Holy Spirit dwells within all the believers but there is only one temple. All of us who believed in Jesus Christ are joined together to become one spiritual temple where God’s spirit dwell. God does not want Christian to be away from the church. Every follower of Jesus has been designed to be joined together with other believers into beautiful spiritual temple called the church in which God lives and works. This is the challenge for us. God wants us to stay and minister in this church. Otherwise, we will not be here. Those who are not here or who went to other church maybe does not belong here. But we are here and God called us to be here. There is no perfect church and no perfect pastor or church members. But Jesus wants everyone of us to be part of this church. A certain writer said: If we consider ourselves followers of Christ. We need to know this. The church is not here for us. We are here for the church. And the church is here for the world. Jesus did not die on the cross so that we can choose a church that make us happy. He died to give us abundant life, bring that life to the church and to share that life to the lost world.

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