Summary: Belonging, Family, God's Plan
ONE CHURCH - A Family
Ephesians 2:19-22 (p. 815) August 7, 2016
Tony Compolo in Who Switched the Price Tags tells this story:
Miss Thompson taught Teddy Stallard in the fourth grade. He was a slow, unkempt student, a loner shunned by his classmates. The previous year his mother died, and what little motivation for school he may have once had was now gone. Miss Thompson didn’t particularly care for Teddy either, but at Christmas time he brought her a small present. Her desk was covered with well-wrapped presents from the other children, but Teddy’s came in a brown sack. When she opened it there was a gaudy rhinestone bracelet with half the stones missing and a bottle of cheap perfume. The children began to snicker but Miss Thompson saw the importance of the moment. She quickly splashed on some perfume and put on the bracelet, pretending Teddy had given her something special. At the end of the day Teddy worked up enough courage to softly say, "Miss Thompson, you smell just like my mother . . . and her bracelet looks real pretty on you too. I’m glad you like my presents." After Teddy left, Miss Thompson got down on her knees and prayed for God’s forgiveness. She prayed for God to use her as she sought to not only teach these children but to love them as well. She became a new teacher. She lovingly helped students like Teddy, and by the end of the year he had caught up with most of the students. Miss Thompson didn’t hear from Teddy for a long time. Then she received this note: "Dear Miss Thompson, I wanted you to be the first to know. I will be graduating second in my class. Love, Teddy Stallard." Four years later she got another note: "Dear Miss Thompson, They just told me I will be graduating first in my class. I wanted you to be the first to know. The university has not been easy, but I liked it. Love, Teddy Stallard." Four years later: "Dear Miss Thompson, As of today, I am Theodore Stallard, M.D. How about that? I wanted you to be the first to know. I am getting married next month. I want you to come and sit where my mother would sit if she were alive. You are the only family I have now; Dad died last year. Love, Teddy Stallard." Miss Thompson went to the wedding and sat where Teddy’s mother would have sat, because she let God use her as an instrument of encouragement.
God’s household is filled with Miss Thompsons! And it’s designed by our heavenly Father to be this way…What would have happened to Teddy Stallard if Miss Thompson had opened that brown bag and said, “This is the ugliest bracelet and worst smelly perfume I’ve ever seen?” and then thrown it into the trash.
We don’t know…we can be pretty sure that it would have devastated Teddy. But we can be absolutely sure she would have never set anywhere as his mother.
I. FOREIGNERS AND STRANGERS CAN NEVER BE FAMILY
The Apostle Paul talks about the bond that’s formed through the cross…whether Jew or Gentile. Jesus breaks down the dividing wall…Jesus puts to death the hostility…no matter who you are.
“Through Jesus we have access to the Father by One spirit.” (Eph. 2:18)
People become family when they are connected to the same Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
And the hard truth is unless we open our hearts and lives to new people they will always stay foreigners and strangers.
It doesn’t matter your race, gender, economic status…the simple fact is you cannot have a real and deep relationship with someone you don’t know. Pieces of wood that are never joined together will never become a house…They’ll always stay a stack of timber.
For the house of God, Jesus Christ Himself, is the Chief cornerstone…In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord…We have access to God through the One Spirit that makes true worship possible.
Church should never be a place you go to worship…Church is a family of people joined together in worship…not just on Sundays…but in life.
ACTS 2:42-47 (p. 759)
A devotion to God and each other…Monday through Saturday was as important to the bond as Sundays…And new people came into the family daily.
“A family committed to loving Jesus and others so their neighbors, community and world could experience good news.”
A church ceases to function as a family when it forgets this mission and preferences become more important than God’s purpose. Where people are viewed not as possible family but foreigners and strangers.
Established and comfortable members circle the wagons…Their focus turns to friendships and relationships that are safe…This way they don’t get hurt…This way they don’t have to go through the difficult process of building new relationships…I understand this too…I can protect my heart and I can be friends with those I like…The problem is when I do this my Christianity is about “ME.” And according to Jesus…it’s never about me.