Summary: Remember that at one time you weren’t citizens, Paul told the Ephesians. But why bother to tell them to remember that? What was it about their citizenship that they might have forgotten? The answer to that question says a lot to us about where are we are
OPEN: The great English preacher Charles Spurgeon told of a man who had been sentenced to death by a Spanish court. This man happened to be BOTH an American citizen AND also Englishman and the consuls of both countries decided to intervene. They declared that the authorities of Spain had no right to take his life, but despite their repeated protests Spain refused to change mind.
At the execution, both nations representatives were allowed to be present, and before the sentence could be carried out both the Britain and the US deliberately wrapped the prisoner in their flags – the Union Jack and the Stars and Stripes. And they issued this warning:
"Fire if you dare! But if you do, you will bring the powers of two great nations upon you!"
There stood the condemned. But the rifleman would not shoot.
Protected by those flags and the governments they represented, the man was invulnerable.
APPLY: Citizenship has its privileges.
This weekend is the July 4th weekend and there are numerous celebrations across our nation celebrating the fact that we are still citizens of a great country. But… sometimes I don’t think we realize what a great nation we have. That we don’t fully grasp how wonderful the privileges are that we have. Much of what we have – we take for granted.
We’re US citizens so we just presume we should these rights and privileges.
· The right to free speech
· Freedom of religion
· The Right to bear arms
· The right to lawful assembly
In fact, our Bill of Rights lists the things Government is not allowed to touch. AND nothing makes us angrier than when our government infringes on those rights.
But what if we were NOT citizens?
What if we were aliens?
What if we didn’t belong to this nation?
What if we didn’t have those rights?
How much would we be willing to give to be granted those privileges?
ILLUS: Over the past few years, our nation has struggled with the concept of Illegal Aliens. People who try to cross our borders so that they can live in our nation… even though they’re illegal. Hundreds of aliens die each year trying to cross over from Mexico or come by boat from to Florida. They risk the lives of their families as well as their own lives to be HERE.
But why? Why would they be willing to risk so much to just to live here?
Why? Because the lands they come from don’t have our advantages.
· They had no future where they came from.
· No opportunities.
· No hope.
· Life was a constant struggle - often under oppressive governments/ religions
For many people across the world, America is literally a beacon of hope.
Essentially, that is what Paul was telling the Ephesians about their relationship with God.
“… REMEMBER that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.” Ephesians 2:12
Paul is telling them that
· at one time they had been aliens
· at one time they had had no opportunities, no hope, no future.
Because they had no God.
Now why was Paul telling these Ephesian Christians this?
Why was he reminding them of WHO they were and WHERE they were at with God?
Well… he was reminding them because somebody was trying to convince them they weren’t where they thought they were.
ILLUS: When GPS devices were still in their infancy, they could give you wrong readings once in awhile. The story’s told of a couple of adventurers who were hiking in the mountains of Colorado. One of them turned to the other and asked “Where are we?”
The 2nd man consulted his GPS and said
“Well, according to this… we’re on that Mountain over there.”
Somebody was lying to the Ephesian Christians.
Somebody was telling them that - according to THEIR GPS – the Ephesians were on the wrong mountain. They were lost. They were STILL aliens. They were still on the wrong side of border.
They were still without citizenship, without hope… without God.
And some of the Ephesians were being taken in by this. But why? What possible reason could convince these Ephesians that they weren’t Christian?
The answer is found in verse 11
“Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called ‘uncircumcised’ by those who call themselves ‘the circumcision’ (that done in the body by the hands of men)” Eph. 2:11
Formerly they HAD been called Gentiles. They HAD been called “uncircumcised”.
What’s that all about?
Well, when the Church began around 33 AD, every Christian had once been a Jew. In fact, for the first 3 or 4 years of Church’s existence… the ONLY Christians were Jews. And all male Jews were circumcised.