Insiders and Outsiders?

We all have memories of finding ourselves among people with the clear sense that we did not belong.  Maybe it was a day in high school when you realized you were not ‘in,’ excluded. I was never an athlete and did not fit in among those guys that were gifted with speed or strength!  Perhaps it was a moment at a social gathering when, as you stood to one side, it became clear that you were not really included.  People of every age, culture, and society tend to create bonds with people like themselves and sometimes quite consciously ‘insiders’ decide to close the door to those who are different, the ‘outsiders.’

When Abraham was called by God into faith, given a promise to be blessed and a blessing, he became the father of the faithful, the people of the Covenant. The descendants of Abraham were careful to keep their distinction, forbidding marriage with outsiders, restricting access to holy rites to priests of the proper lineage, maintaining a calendar of feasts and holy days that drew them together. Over time a wall was built that not only separated Jews and Gentiles socially, but also kept the Gentiles from God’s promises.

When Christ came, He tore down that wall. In Him, the former distinction of Jew and Gentile was erased and a ‘new kind of human being,’ a people belonging to God was called into being. In Ephesians Paul says, “But now you belong to Christ Jesus. Though you once were far away from God, now you have been brought near to him because of the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:13, NLT)  “So now you Gentiles are no longer strangers and foreigners. You are citizens along with all of God’s holy people. You are members of God’s family. We are his house, built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. And the cornerstone is Christ Jesus himself. We who believe are carefully joined together, becoming a holy temple for the Lord. Through him you Gentiles are also joined together as part of this dwelling where God lives by his Spirit.” (Ephesians 2:19-22, NLT)

Personalize that today, dear friend. Have you believed one of many lies that keep people from knowing the love of God?  Yes, we may hear that little voice inside our head that whispers,  “you are not good enough,” or “your heritage is not the right one,” or “your past choices are too regrettable,”  or “you just do not have what it takes” and the lie keeps us from living as a friend of God, in the family of faith. In the eyes of God there are no insiders, no people who enjoy special access to His grace. Christ’s sacrifice was made on behalf of the world, sufficient to make us right with God, regardless of what we did, who we were!

God invites you to be a ‘citizen’ of His holy nation! In the United States a debate continues to rage about immigration, about who can become a citizen and enjoy the right to participate and enjoy the prosperity of the nation. There is no debate about your invitation to the Kingdom of God. Because of Jesus, we are made a new people, with a new identity; called into “one body and one Spirit— just as you were called to one hope when you were called— one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6, NIV)

God has made us members of His household. What a thought.  Our family members enjoy unique access and privileges, don’t they? My adult kids can show up in my house anytime, raid my refrigerator, call me for help.  Why? Because we are family!  God calls us His sons and daughters and makes us brothers and sisters.  Have you given thanks that you know your Abba (Dad), that you have a family that extends over the whole earth?

Yes, God is making His people into a living Temple, a place where He dwells by His Spirit. Jesus is the Cornerstone, the keystone, that brings us all together. What a beautiful thing the Church can become when we accept, by faith, that we are called into this holy temple, living stones, our former distinctions lost to the one true glory of belonging to God, the new people of the Lord.

The implications of those holy callings on our day to day lives are huge.
How can we hate, when we are so loved?
How can we discriminate when we are so accepted?
How can we live pridefully when we have been given such grace?

How can we feel the fear or insecurity that is so common to human beings, when we are given such an identity?

Here is a word from the Word. Meditate on the declaration that God makes of you, who are ‘in Christ.’

“As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him—” (1 Peter 2:4, NIV)  “you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Peter 2:9-10, NIV) So, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.” (1 Peter 2:12, NIV)

Oh, Spirit of God, let us grasp the wonder of being called, accepted, given the privilege of sharing in the display of Your majesty. Amen.

_______________

No Longer Slaves

I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God
I’m no longer a slave to fear
I am a child of God

You unravel me with a melody
You surround me with a song
Of deliverance from my enemies
Till all my fears are gone

From my Mother’s womb
You have chosen me
Love has called my name
I’ve been born again into Your family
Your blood flows through my veins

You split the sea so I could walk right through it
My fears were drowned in perfect love
You rescued me so I could stand and sing
I am a child of God

Brian Johnson | Joel Case | Jonathan David Helser
© 2014 Bethel Music Publishing

CCLI License # 810055

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