Summary: There are barriers to God and between people, Jesus tests our attitudes to wholeness
As most of you know by know, we have been living in two countries. In fact we have two passports each. (Show Passports).
We have two passports because we actually have dual citizenship. One of the reasons we became Canadian citizens in 2004 was that after 9/11, the crossing over the border to the US because very difficult. Previously, all a Canadian had to do was to take their birth certificate or even a driving licence and that was enough ID. Most of the time the border guards just let you past. As Landed immigrants, which was the stage before citizenship we lost the ability to cross the border. In order to do that we were forced to apply for a special card. There was only one place in Canada to do that and that was in Calgary. We even had folks from Winnipeg drive 18 hours in a bus to get the card. Non stop. So we became citizens instead. I learned that citizenship is important and it carries rights and privileges. The privilege to travel wherever you want to go, is important. After 9/11 and before becoming a candian citizen, I truly felt what it was like to be an alien in a foreign land.
As a Christian, I also have another citizenship. I am a citizen of heaven. My passport is the Holy Spirit and it guarantees a free passage and access to the one God.
Like an earthly citizen, this citizenship also carries certain responsibilities. It is citizens who come together and build a country. Sometimes at great sacrifice. I was talking with someone who had lived through the blitz here in Coventry the other day. I was astounded not just be the story of being dug out of a bomb shelter – I had never thought that you might get trapped in a place designed for safety – but also by their attitude. “Well, “they said, “It’s no use moaning about it, you just get on with it.”
When I think of the countless other conversations that I had with folks who just won’t get on with it, it was a refreshing and remarkable experience. But sometimes there are barriers to getting on with it. Stephen Hawking, the Cambridge university professor and possibly the greatest thinker of our age has contributed tremendously to our thoughts about the universe. But he had barriers. He wasn’t supposed to live this long even. He is confined to a wheelchair, unable to move, except just enough to nudge his device to communicate. He seems to be at peace with his life, now that the barriers to the communication of his thoughts to the community of which he is a citizen. Knowing that he was doomed with a terminal illness, he carried on in order that he could complete his work before his time was up. Others could just well have given up the fight. According to outr scripture today, Jesus faced a barrier. You see, way back in Exodus 19:5,6 God’s intention was that the whole world would be one with Israel as a kingdom of priests. Israel was to be the light to the nations that they would know the one true God and be all citizens of His kingdom. But there was now a barrier between the Jews and the rest of the world. Jews would have nothing to do with gentiles and vice versa. There was enmity, and feuding, trial and disaster and war between them. And ultimately this was down to the barrier of sin. And Paul says that Jesus’ purpose was to create in himself, one new man out of two. To combine gentile and Jew. To reconcile them in the cross. It was on the cross that Jesus put to death the hostility. And the seed of that hostility is sin. And we know that sin was placed on Jesus, in order that nothing might come between people. Not just Jew and gentile, but between any two people who are hostile. We talk about church growth often. And when we look at the biggest rate of growth of the church, it was in it’s early years, sometimes under tremendous persecution. But the one thing that non Christians understood was that Christians loved one another, for no apparent reason! They helped one another. They sorted themselves out. They were filled with Joy. Not the happy clappy type of joy but the joy that comes from being at peace with one another and with God. These strange Christians obviously belonged to another world. And yes they did. And yes they do today. You can always tell a Christian. You tell a Christian by the way they love one another. It is the most attractive. It is the most effective. It is the most essential thing about the life of a citizen of the kingdom of God. In fact the passport of the citizen of the kingdom of God is their life! And you can anywhere with that passport. It opens doors. It crosses cultural boundaries. The fruit of the Spirit, which is our passport, is love joy peace, patience kindness goodness, faithfulness gentleness and self control. Against such there is no law. There is no barrier. Deep speaks to deep.